NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Earlier this year, North Olmsted’s Brossard Family lost their youngest daughter, Brenna, 25, who passed away suddenly due to an epileptic seizure.
Although her cause of death is still undetermined, she likely died from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).
To honor her, State Rep. Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) recently introduced House Bill 731 to designate Oct. 26 as “Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy Awareness Day,” which is also known as “Brenna’s Law.”
“I’m proud to introduce this piece of legislation to spread awareness about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy,” Smith said in a press release.
“While this is a common cause of death in people with epilepsy, doctors are not required to disclose the risks to patients, leaving families like Brenna’s unaware of this risk and how to prevent it,” Smith said.
“We must educate parents and their families on how to prevent SUDEP and continue advocating on Brenna’s behalf.”
SUDEP is the sudden, unexpected death of a person with epilepsy who is otherwise healthy. According to the CDC, one in 1,000 people with epilepsy dies from SUDEP each year.
Because there is no known cause of SUDEP, the best way to lower one’s risk is by controlling seizures through various therapies and management practices.
“Since we lost Brenna, my family believed awareness can and will lead to SUDEP prevention,” said Lou Brossard, who is also the North Olmsted City Council president. “House Bill 731 is the critical first step in that awareness process.
“The next step is a companion House bill — requiring neurologists and physicians treating patients with epilepsy to inform them of the potential risk of SUDEP and to take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk — that we’re working with Smith’s office to introduce before the end of the year.”
The Brossard family is committed to creating awareness that 3.4 million Americans are living with epilepsy. They feel this is what Brenna would have wanted.
“Brenna was such a very determined young woman,” Brossard said. “She applied that determination and energy into everything she did. She was also an advocate for everything that she believed in.
“That’s why we are certain that she would be so proud of these efforts, because if she were still here with us, she would be leading the charge.”
In response to House Bill 731, Mayor Nicole Dailey Jones has declared today (Oct. 26) “Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy Awareness Day” in the city.
Employees showing support for the Brossard family are wearing purple clothing in recognition of SUDEP Day.
“The Epilepsy Association of Cleveland, which the Brossard family is affiliated with as they work to spread awareness, celebrates SUDEP Day on the same date,” Jones said.
“(Oct. 26) signifies the statistic that one in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. This is important, because I wanted to do something to honor the life and memory of Brenna.”