Hanna Scigala, a 31-year-old mother of three from Newcastle who had a severe peanut allergy, suffered an anaphylactic reaction in her home on January 4, presumably caused by a dessert. At about 9:30PM, she began to feel ill after consuming the post-dinner treat. Her 12-year-old son immediately texted his grandparents who alerted emergency services before rushing to the nearby household.
Ms Scigala was rushed to a nearby hospital but suffered cardiac arrest during the ambulance ride. She arrived in critical condition and was placed in intensive care, but hree days later, scans showed she no longer had brain activity.
Her family made the difficult decision to switch off her life support.
Ms Scigala’s sister Stephanie told Daily Mail Australia:
[how it all] feels like a bad dream. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t comprehend that I was looking at her and she was still breathing, but it was just the machine.
I just wanted to tell her to wake up.
Her mother opted to continue Hanna’s tradition of selflessness by donating her organs to save other people’s lives.
The family is awaiting results from the coroner’s report to confirm what triggered her anaphylaxis.
Ms Scigala’s three children, two boys ages 12 and nine, and a three-year-old daughter currently reside with their retired grandparents.
We wish Hanna’s family much strength and solace in the days to come after this sudden, horrific tragedy. The allergic community mourns her loss and we hope the thought of her helping to save others will bring some small measure of comfort to the family.
As we do when we report on tragedies such as this, we look for ways similar occurrences might be avoided by others.
We can’t say for sure, but there is no mention that Ms Scigala had epinephrine auto-injectors on had or that she administered them when she first suspected she was suffering an anaphylactic reaction.
Epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis, and the sooner it is administered, the better the outcome.
Every person diagnosed with a food allergy should be prescribed epinephrine and must always have two auto-injectors on hand. Have them readily available at home and make sure you take them with you when you go out.
Epinephrine is your lifeline should the unthinkable happen. Never be caught without your lifeline.