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Mum pleads for airlines to equip for nut allergies

March 6, 2018 Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

A mother whose young son almost died in flight is demanding that airlines equip themselves to deal with sudden allergic reactions.

For reasons still not understood, allergies are proliferating – and some of the symptoms can be deadly.

A woman and her four children were returning to the US after a holiday in the Dutch-run south Caribbean island of Aruba when one of the children, 10-year-old Luca, ate a cashew nut.

Luca is said to have suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction.

The mother says the family didn’t know Luca had an allergy to cashews. The boy apparently ate one cashew from the nut mix served on the American Airlines flight, and within minutes had severe pain in stomach and chest, and difficulty breathing.

Saviours aboard the flight included a quick-thinking flight attendant and a nurse who administered an EpiPen (an adrenaline auto-injector) and cared for Luca during the flight.

Luca has recovered but his mum is campaigning for airlines to equip themselves to deal with such emergencies. She says airlines that serve nuts should have EpiPens in their on-board medical kits.

The case illustrates the quandary airlines face. Some people are allergic to shellfish, pollen, cat hair – all sorts of things. Milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and eggs cause  frequent problems.

Allergies (not just to nuts) are reported to be on the increase around the world. Some 1.4% of all children in the US are allergic to peanuts. In the most severe cases, inhaling a tiny portion of nut dust can send a child into anaphylactic shock, which can prove fatal unless a dose of adrenaline or similar medication is given – not always easy during flight.

Airlines are placed in a delicate position. Are they to blame if a passenger suffers a violent reaction to a foodstuff or beverage served aboard the flight – even if it’s served to someone else? Suppose a passenger brings nuts aboard?

Are cabin crew supposed to be able to administer injections, or should a nurse travel on all flights?

Whatever action airlines take is likely to leave them open to criticism and possibly even lawsuits.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Andrew North says:

    It is amazing that the airlines are ignoring this. There are so many people out there who will not fly due to nut allergies, it must be losing the airlines business yet they seem to be ignoring the whole thing.

    Absolutely stupid is the fact that they do not have epipens in their on board medical kits.
    Epipens are designed to be used by those without medical training. The comment about needing a nurse on board is stupid. Anyone who has done a first aid course in Australia (for example) in the last 5 years has been trained on Epipens and when they should be used. The article does not mention that the epipens in this instance were donated by other passengers on the flight.

    I have heard Delta in the US and one of the Canadian airlines have sensible nut policies. Delta gets a lot more business than it realises due to this.

    Most airlines will be understanding and not serve solid nuts or very aromatic nut meals (such as satay) on a flight if a person with a known allergy is on board due to the airborne nut particle risk.

    I remember that in 1984 Northwest Orient in the USA stopped serving nuts due to the number of diversions and emergency
    landings they had because of the airborne nut particle problem when all the passengers opened the free packets of nuts.

    Some airlines such as Cathay Pacific actually tell people with food allergies not to fly with them as they have a policy of serving nuts in all meals. Makes you wonder if the nut producers are in their pockets.

  2. bruce weston says:

    well the air crew WAS PREPARED so whats the claim – but hey the parent or person must take individual responsibility for themselves – know they ‘CLAIMED ‘ not aware so how does that make the airline be aware ???

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