| 12.5°C Dublin

Sympathy is not enough for mum of tragic Emma

THE mother of tragic allergy schoolgirl Emma Sloan has welcomed the sympathy expressed by the HSE on her death but said it won't bring change.

Caroline Sloan is calling for wider and easier availability of anti-allergy EpiPen devices used to treat anaphylaxis - a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal.

Emma (14), who had a nut allergy, died because she could not get an emergency EpiPen after accidentally eating satay sauce in a Dublin city Chinese restaurant last December.

When Emma became ill the family tried to get an EpiPen in a city pharmacy, but were told they were only available on prescription and Emma would have to go to an accident and emergency department.

Emma died on the street moments later.

The deputy chief of the Health Service Executive (HSE) yesterday extended her sympathy to the Sloan family.

Laverne McGuinness told the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children: "I would first like to extend my deepest sympathy to Ms Sloan and her family on the loss of their daughter, Emma, who suffered an anaphylactic reaction last December".

She said people with a confirmed diagnosis of anaphylaxis are prescribed adrenaline pens and shown how and when to use them. The current recommendation is that two pens should be carried with the individual at all times.

Ms McGuinness went on to say that extending the availability of adrenaline pens is a complex matter and is under active consideration with the Department of Health.

"However, it should be noted that this medication is available only on prescription and an alternative would require amending legislation," she explained.

But Caroline told the Herald that while the sympathies of the HSE are welcome they alone will not make EpiPens more widely available.


"I do appreciate their sympathy but that's not going to make changes, and that's what we are campaigning for, changes," she said.

Caroline said she is waiting to find out who will be health minister following the Cabinet reshuffle being prepared by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the new leader of the Labour party, Joan Burton.

"I'm going to be in touch with the minister, whoever it is, asking them to make this issue a top priority so that no other person has to die like Emma did," said Caroline.

"And I'm still looking for an independent inquiry into Emma's death. Because I still don't have answers to my questions," she added.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly, in a recent presentation to the 
Dail health committee, said his department is currently examining the feasibility of amending Prescription Regulations, to facilitate wider availability of adrenaline pens in emergency situations.

He said, however, that there are complex considerations to be considered to ensure that patient safety is fully protected.