Wednesday 16 April 2014

An emotional goodbye for 'bubbly, energetic' teen Emma following nut allergy tragedy

Emma Sloan's mother Caroline grieves after her funeral at the Church of our Lady of Good Counsel, Mourne Road, Crumlin. Pic: David Conaghy

She was an X Factor fanatic, a devoted follower of fashion and a "loving daughter" who had already told her granny she had bought her slippers as her Christmas present.

She was generous, vivacious and kind.

She was just 14 years old when she died.

The sense of overwhelming grief at the funeral of Emma Sloan, in the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel on Dublin's Mourne Road in Drimnagh, was palpable yesterday. Heartbroken mourners, shivering outside the church, wiped away tears.

Her third-year classmates in Our Lady of Mercy secondary school turned out in their navy uniforms to form a guard of honour. To the strains of Lily Allen’s Christmas song Somewhere Only We Know Emma’s white coffin was carried into the church.

Amid the searing grief, people of all ages wept openly as they bade farewell to a music-loving girl who "got more into her 14 years than most did in a lifetime".

Her heartbroken mother Caroline, 40, was flanked by two family members who helped her into the church, where over 1,500 mourners had gathered to pay their respects.

Emma Sloan
Emma Sloan

Emma’s all-too-short life ended when she collapsed and died on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, having suffered anaphylactic shock brought on by a peanut allergy last week.

Emma had unknowingly eaten satay sauce, which is almost pure peanut paste, at a Chinese restaurant in the city centre on Wednesday evening.

When she began showing signs of going into anaphylactic shock, her mother brought her to the nearby Hamilton Long pharmacy where she was refused the EpiPen autoinjector as she did not have her prescription.

Emma and her mother Caroline usually carry the auto-injector, but had left it at home on Wednesday when they went shopping in town. The mother and daughter were advised to go to an A&E department but Emma collapsed on the pavement outside the chemists and died. A doctor and passing ambulance crew attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate her.

A Garda sudden death inquiry is under way — which is standard procedure. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland is also carrying out an inquiry — but so far it has declined to comment on the refusal to prescribe the auto-injector despite the emergency.

Under the society’s regulations, pharmacists can dispense medicine in emergencies but many are uncertain. The adrenaline in the auto-injector could have potentially fatal effects on some people.

Inside the church yesterday, mourners knelt in prayer as they remembered the teenager. Movingly, friends brought items to the altar that symbolised her life: perfume; her mobile phone; tickets for the X Factor

As the coffin was carried out of the church Emma’s mother kept her head bowed. Mourners caressed touched the coffin as her family, cast in uncontrollable grief, filed past throngs of mourners.

All they’re left with is Christmas to reflect on their loss.

Her remains were taken to Mount Jerome crematorium.

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