ACT MP Karen Chhour 'so grateful' to National's Dr Shane Reti and Labour's Dr Gaurav Sharma for aiding her during severe asthma attack

From left to right: Labour MP Dr Gaurav Sharma, ACT MP Karen Chhour and National deputy leader Dr Shane Reti.
From left to right: Labour MP Dr Gaurav Sharma, ACT MP Karen Chhour and National deputy leader Dr Shane Reti. Photo credit: Newshub / Facebook

National Party deputy leader Dr Shane Reti and Labour MP Dr Gaurav Sharma have been praised for coming to the aid of a colleague who suffered a severe asthma attack. 

ACT's Karen Chhour, a first-term MP, could never have predicted that she would undergo a frightening health scare at Parliament's Copperfield's café on an otherwise ordinary day at the office.

"Parliament can at times seem a combative place. But when something like this happens, you see the best in people," Chhour told Newshub, reflecting on the day two parliamentary colleagues came to her aid at a time of need. 

On Tuesday, Chhour suffered a severe asthma attack. She had an allergic reaction which set off her asthma, meaning her inhaler didn't work. And in a moment that most would agree is pretty scary, Chhour was aided by two MPs with medical knowledge. 

"Both Dr Reti from National and Dr Sharma from Labour came to my aid," Chhour, who has fully recovered from the ordeal, recalls. "Parliamentary security, the Wellington Free Ambulance and Wellington Hospital were all wonderful to me."

Dr Reti, a former Northern District Health Board member who worked as a general practitioner in Whangārei for 17 years prior to becoming a politician, told Newshub it was more than happy to come to Chhour's aid. 

"It's a privilege to be asked and to be able to assist a colleague when they are in need."

Chhour's other rescuer, Dr Sharma, is a first-term MP who won the seat of Hamilton West from National in last year's election. Prior to becoming a politician, he - like Dr Reti - worked as a general practitioner in Nawton, a suburb in western Hamilton.

"It was really good to have Dr Shane Reti there, he's obviously more experienced, and he's such a calming figure," Dr Sharma told Newshub. "When he was there he was, I would say, the primary doctor. He was really taking care of her."

Dr Sharma said Tuesday was a busy day for him. He'd just come out of Labour's caucus meeting and found out that he was speaking on three pieces of legislation in Parliament and had been contacted by media about the Waikato DHB cyber incident.

He'd rushed back to his office, only to get there and hear fellow Labour MP Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki calling out to him. 

"I thought she might be going out for lunch or something so I stepped out, and she said 'they need a doctor in the café, something's gone wrong'," Dr Sharma recalls. 

"I also saw [Labour MP] Tāmati Coffey, he was there as well, so we both went to the café and found Karen there, and just as we were going Dr Shane Reti got there as well.  

"Karen was there and she was unfortunately feeling unwell and there was parliamentary security team there as well trying to assist."

Dr Sharma said it's not the first time his medical experience has come in handy. The last incident was a few months ago, also at Parliament. 

"I had just finished Health Select Committee and again I was in Copperfield's, and somebody came to me running and they were a bit short of breath. They said 'help, help, they need you' at the select committee.

"I said I'd just come out of the select committee, but what they were trying to say was there a health incident at another select committee.

"When we got there somebody needed assistance and we had to call an ambulance and assist them until the ambulance got there."

Dr Sharma said he's had "quite a few incidences over the years" on planes and other situations.