Anthony Shadid: Incomparable Pulitzer-Winning Middle East Correspondent Dies in Syria
Journalist Anthony Shadid Dies of Apparent Asthma Attack
The much-admired foreign correspondent passed away while on assignment for 'The New York Times' in Syria, bringing to light the level of severity asthma can reach.
By Jaimie Dalessio Clayton
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FRIDAY, Feb. 17, 2012—New York Timescorrespondent Anthony Shadid died Thursday, apparently of an asthma attack, while on assignment in Syria. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist was reporting on the nation’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Shadid, 43, had been in Syria for a week withNew York Timesphotographer Tyler Hicks, who told the newspaper that Shadid showed symptoms of an asthma attack before he collapsed on Thursday, as they were preparing to leave the country.
Hicks told that on their first night, after crossing the border into Syria, Shadid had suffered an asthmatic episode, which they believed was triggered by an allergy to horses their guides had ridden for part of the journey.
It appears a similar reaction to the horses on their way out of the country again set off asthma symptoms, which progressed into a fatal attack.
Shadid was breathing faintly and shallowly after he collapsed, until his breathing stopped altogether and Hicks was unable to revive him, Hicks told theTimes.
The news is a heartbreaking reminder of an asthma attack’s potentially fatal nature. Stan Szefler, MD, of National Jewish Health in Denver, says that asthma is still related to about 4,000 deaths per year.
An estimated 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, allergies are a major trigger for asthma and severe asthma attacks. The relationship between the two is clear: Some 70 percent of asthmatics have allergies.
“Asthma attacks or exacerbations related to an environmental exposure, such as animals, can occur suddenly and unexpectedly,” Dr. Szefler says.
Given the dangerous nature of this particular assignment, it’s possible that stress could have also exacerbated Shadid’s asthma.
Szefler adds that Shadid was probably still recovering from that first exacerbation when he had this second one a week later. If he did have asthma medication on hand, it may not have been enough to keep the episode from reaching a life-threatening level.
Video: Journalists deaths in Syria highlight dangers
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