By Quentin Paimparay

A charity called “Epilepsy sucks UK” has developed a new kind of anti-suffocation pillow which allows people suffering from epilepsy to breathe through in case of a seizure.

The charity

Epilepsy sucks UK is a non-profit organisation founded by Sallieann Gould and Vicki Evans: two mothers whose children have epilepsy. The aim of the charity is to help people who suffer from epilepsy as well as parents and carers to restore their confidence and to get more out of life.

The idea

Epilepsy Sucks UK has had the idea to develop an innovative anti-suffocation pillow which is a way to reduce nocturnal seizure related deaths. Overall, the aim of the pillow is to reduce the risk of suffocation in order to save lives. It also indirectly helps to reduce anxiety, fear, and stress, so people can sleep better. Professionals have decreed that anti suffocation pillows are highly recommended and no epileptic patient should sleep on a classic pillow or a soft mattress for the purpose of prevention.


Throughout the year, almost 1200 people including children, adults and elderly people die in the UK due to a direct result of epilepsy. Obviously, most of the seizures cannot be prevented. According to studies 4 in 10 deaths from epilepsy are preventable, especially deaths from suffocation, thanks to the use of an anti-suffocation pillow. Therefore, these pillows could potentially save up to 480 lives in the UK per year. 

In everyday life an ordinary pillow can obstruct the nostrils and the mouse of the person who is suffering a seizure. Up to 50% of the deaths are unexpected and only a few minutes of oxygen starvation may be devastating. Indeed, brain damage can occur and death from suffocation can happen within 10 minutes.

People who discover they are suffering from epilepsy often start to worry. They do not sleep well and stress-related illness can occur.  In that case they often take medication which helps them to fight anxiety but it also increases the risk of suffocation.

Studies have shown that most people who die because of epilepsy have difficulties to breathe and they are generally found in their bed in a prone position, which means that suffocations might contribute to their death. When a seizure happens, people are not conscious enough to avoid the danger of suffocation and they generally become entangled in their bed.

Feedback from one user

Joanne McClure owns one anti-suffocation pillow developed by Epilepsy Sucks UK. She shared her experience on the official website of the charity that you can visit here

She said: “Epilepsy Sucks UK is full of people in exactly the same position and just when you’re not sure someone always answers even if it’s just reassurance. […] Within a week, the pillow arrived! I go to bed with the reassurance that in the morning I’ll wake and still be a mum to my little girl and still be here to be a wife and to get up.  The fear has now subsided.  When I go away, the pillow is the first thing I pack and has provided me a lifeline to living a normal life again.”

Some charities aim to develop products which enhance the quality of lives of people who suffer from a disability. Epilepsy Sucks UK is one of them. To find out more about the charity, click here.

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