| 0.9°C Dublin

'I'm still so angry at how my Emma died' reveals mum a year on from teen's death from allergic reaction

Close

Caroline Sloan with her daughters (left) Amy & Miia , whose teenage daughter Emma died after suffering a fatal reaction to a restaurant nut sauce, at the launch of "Emma's Voice" as she has signed petitions to free up access to the life-saving injection devices

Caroline Sloan with her daughters (left) Amy & Miia , whose teenage daughter Emma died after suffering a fatal reaction to a restaurant nut sauce, at the launch of "Emma's Voice" as she has signed petitions to free up access to the life-saving injection devices

TRAGIC: Emma died after eating peanut-based sauce

TRAGIC: Emma died after eating peanut-based sauce

/

Caroline Sloan with her daughters (left) Amy & Miia , whose teenage daughter Emma died after suffering a fatal reaction to a restaurant nut sauce, at the launch of "Emma's Voice" as she has signed petitions to free up access to the life-saving injection devices

The mother of a schoolgirl who died from a severe nut allergy reaction on a Dublin street said she is still filled with anger.

Caroline Sloan held her daughter Emma in her arms as she died on a busy footpath on O'Connell Street after a failed attempt to get an anti-allergy EpiPen injection from a nearby pharmacy.

Emma (14) mistakenly ate a sauce containing nuts while on a pre-Christmas family visit to a Chinese restaurant last December.

The grieving mother said she was told in the pharmacy she would not get the EpiPen without a prescription and she should bring Emma to a hospital.

Caroline (41) said she is still gripped by "pure anger" as she believes Emma would have survived if her request for the EpiPen was granted.

"With Emma's first anniversary coming up this Thursday, I'm even more angry now. It's pure anger," she said.

Caroline is exhausted after a long campaign which resulted in 115,000 people signing her petitions calling for EpiPen injection pens to be made widely available without prescription in restaurants and schools for life-and-death allergy emergencies.

Ms Sloan and more than 30 young helpers handed over the petition to Health Minister Leo Varadkar recently.

She spoke movingly to the Herald about facing into a second Christmas without her beloved Emma at their home in Drimnagh.

Caroline described Emma as "a beautiful, smart, and funny girl" who was "one of a kind".

"Emma loved Christmas," she said.

She remembers Emma telling her big sister Amy that she was confident her mother would get her the new phone she wanted for Christmas despite motherly warnings that she could not afford to buy her a phone.

"There will be no tree up for Christmas this year. No decorations, no lights, no cards… I'm just waiting for the day to be over," said Caroline.

Although the family will not celebrate Christmas Day, her three-year-old daughter Mia will get a visit from Santa Claus.

"Mia keeps me going. Only for her, I wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. Mia still talks about her.

"When she sees a star in the sky, she says: 'There's Emma!'

"Mia plays with little angel figures that we have all over the house. When she sits and plays with an angel, she talks to the angel as if she was talking to Emma," she said.

Caroline said she has been assured by Minister Varadkar that regulations will be changed to reduce restrictions on the availability of EpiPens injections.

shock

She said she was completely focused on getting EpiPens more available but now she wants to emphasise the need for more effective education for parents of children with allergies.

She wants parents to be aware that an allergic reaction resulting in anaphylactic shock can actually kill.

"I just didn't fully realise that an allergy to peanuts could be fatal. When I went into the pharmacy that day, I didn't know that Emma could die," she said.

She said that children's hospitals should always emphasis the possibilities of a fatal reaction.

"When we were getting information about nut allergies, we were told that a fatality is so rare and that the hospital didn't want to panic people.

"Since then, I was told that Emma had a catastrophic reaction. Everyone should be fully warned," she said.

Emma, who also suffered from asthma, had eaten a satay sauce in a Chinese buffet restaurant without noticing the sign stating the sauce contained nuts. Shortly afterwards, she told her mother, "I can't breathe".

Emma collapsed and died on a crowded footpath within minutes.

"Emma was such a free spirit that I believe that her spirit must live on. I don't get a sense of her being near me but I'm told that's because I haven't had time to grieve properly yet.

"I know I'll never accept what happened. I want answers. I'm just so angry," she said.

Shortly after Emma's death, Caroline spoke to the Herald about how a Christmas outing with her family ended in tragedy.

She said she went to Jimmy Chung's all-you-can-eat self-service restaurant with Emma and her sisters Amy (20) and Mia (2), and her own sister Susan for a family meal.

"Emma had always been very careful and would check the ingredients of every chocolate bar and other foods to be sure they didn't contain nuts.

"She had a satay sauce. She thought it was curry sauce because it looked like curry sauce and smelled like curry. I'm not blaming the restaurant because there was a sign reading 'nuts contained' but it wasn't noticed. After a while, Emma began to say, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe'."

Caroline and her daughters left the restaurant and went around the corner to O'Connell Street. She said she went into the Hamilton Long chemist shop and told a male member of staff that she needed an EpiPen injection for Emma.

Fighting back tears, she said: "He told me I couldn't get it without a prescription. He told me to bring her to an A & E.

beautiful

"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 of Abbey Street when she collapsed. She died on the footpath.

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

"But she was gone.

"Emma was a very attractive girl and had modelled for her class at Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Drimnagh. She was due to sit the Junior Cert," she said.

"She was a beautiful, smart and funny girl. If I could sum her up in one sentence she was 'one of a kind'. She wanted to be a make-up artist.

"Every day she'd have a different look. She loved boys and music and make-up and clothes. She bought her clothes in places like the vintage shop in Temple Bar," she said.

Caroline related how Emma's toddler sister Mia watched her die on the pavement.

"My daughter Amy held Mia in her arms as Emma died. Mia saw her die," she said.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


Privacy