Irish News

Friday 25 July 2014

Mother's agony as teenage girl dies from peanut allergy on city street

Published 20/12/2013|02:30

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Emma Sloan died after having an allergic reaction to a peanut sauce she had in a restaurant
Emma Sloan
Emma Sloan
The O'Connell St pharmacy

THIS is tragic teenager Emma Sloan who died on a city street just minutes after suffering a fatal allergic reaction.

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Emma (14) was out for a pre-Christmas meal with her family when she accidentally ate a nut-based sauce and suffered a severe allergic reaction

But when her mother rushed to a nearby pharmacy to get help, she was refused a life-saving adrenaline injection because she didn't have a prescription.

The distraught mother was told to bring her daughter to hospital but the two had only got a few yards away when the teenager collapsed.

Emma's mother, Caroline, told the Irish Independent: "I'm so angry I was not given the epipen to inject her. I was told to bring Emma to an A&E department.

"My daughter died on a street corner with a crowd around her. How could a peanut kill my child?"

The nightmarish series of events began near O'Connell Street in Dublin on Wednesday night. The family were eating at Jimmy Chung's chinese s buffet on Eden Quay when Emma mistakenly chose a sauce with nuts in it.

"Emma has always been very careful and would check the ingredients of every chocolate bar and other foods to be sure they didn't contain nuts," her mother Caroline said.

"She had a satay sauce. She thought it was curry sauce because it looked like curry sauce and smelt like curry," Ms Sloan (40) said.

"I'm not blaming the restaurant because there was a sign saying 'nuts contained' but it wasn't noticed. After a while, Emma began to say 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe'."

The teenager didn't have her 'epipen' injection device, often carried by people with allergies, with her.

Her mother told how she went around the corner to Hamilton Long chemist on O'Connell Street and desperately asked for an epipen injection to bring to her daughter outside.

"He told me I couldn't get it without a prescription. He told me to bring her to A&E.

"I left and I knew we'd have to run all the way to Temple Street hospital. But she only got as far as the corner with Abbey Street when she collapsed. She died on the footpath," said the grieving mother, fighting back tears.

"A doctor was passing and had tried to help and put her into the recovery position. Ambulance and fire brigade men worked on her. But she was gone."

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Sloan appealed "to parents of children with nut allergies to make sure their child always carry an epipen with them. She said: "I took down the Christmas tree this morning. I'll never celebrate Christmas again."

Ms Sloan thanked the doctors and fire brigade who tried to help her daughter.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald has now requested that an investigation be launched into the girl's death. A spokeswoman said: "She is horrified and upset for the family. Her thoughts are with the family and she has spoken to Minister Reilly and asked him to examine the facts of the case and precisely how this happened."

A senior member of staff at the Hamilton Long pharmacy told the Irish Independent that they had been advised by gardai to make no public comment whatsoever about the incident.

A member of the pharmacy profession in Dublin later told this newspaper that regulations prohibit the dispensing of epipen injections without a prescription.

It is classed as an 'S1B' drug containing adrenaline and has the potential to do harm. Pharmacists are not allowed to give the injection.

A security guard who witnessed the tragedy unfold on O'Connell Street said he was "very stressed" by it.

Mujahid Najeebhun (29), a security man at Clarkes shoes, said: "I saw the girl lying on the ground. She was in the recovery position and there was something coming out of her mouth. Then people noticed she wasn't breathing. A woman was shouting, 'My daughter is dying.'

"The people saw the fire brigade at the traffic lights and they were shouting at them to hurry up. They came and began giving her CPR. I'm so sad that the girl died."

A member of management at Jimmy Chung's said the satay sauce had a sign over it which read: "Satay Sauce. Nuts Contained."

The restaurant owner Tony Shek said later: "We heard nothing about it. The staff are often asked by family members if foods contain nuts. But nothing was mentioned to any staff yesterday."

Alan O'Keeffe

Irish Independent

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