Joanna Jones was flying British Airways from Antigua to London when Poppy, her 14-year-old daughter started showing signs of a severe reaction.
Speaking to MailOnline, Ms Jones tells her story:
When we boarded the crew asked passengers not to eat peanuts as my daughter has an allergy but as we took off I saw a man around ten rows in front eating nuts.
I was worried and asked if we could be moved but there was no availability and the crew asked him to stop eating the nuts but he ignored the requests and carried on.
About three hours over the Atlantic, Poppy suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction. Her mom sprang into action, administering two epinephrine auto-injectors they took onboard with them.
Epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis which can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Responding to the cabin crew’s frantic appeals for a ‘doctor onboard’, a nurse stepped forward and fitted Poppy with an oxygen mask from the plane’s medical kit.
Doctors at an emergency call center in Arizona were contacted and relayed instructions to the captain and crew.
Ms Jones continues with her account of the ordeal:
It was so frightening. The pilot declared a medical emergency and at one point they were considering making an emergency landing but in the end he decided to carry on to Gatwick.
The nurse who was on board and responded to a call helped us and kept an eye on Poppy’s blood pressure with a monitor but even that wasn’t working properly.
When we landed an ambulance met us and rushed us straight to hospital where we spent the rest of the day until Poppy was well enough to be discharged.
It was a horrible experience and it could have all been avoided if this man had listened to the announcements and not eaten nuts.
People seem to think this isn’t a serious issue but it is and the airlines should do more they should make it illegal for people to eat nuts onboard a plane if someone is allergic to them.
All the crew could do was ask him to stop eating them but he wouldn’t he carried on and just didn’t seem to care that he was putting my daughter’s life at risk.
We had asked to change cabin section but the crew couldn’t do that and when she went into anaphylaxis it was awful – she’s had attacks before but never on a plane and that’s what made it all the more frightening.
Thankfully Poppy survived, but that is not a given in circumstances like this.
On July 17, 2016, 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse suffered anaphylaxis aboard a British Airways flight from London to Nice from a sandwich she had purchased at a Pret A Manger shop at Heathrow. Likewise, her father administered two epinephrine auto-injectors but it was not enough to save Natasha who suffered cardiac arrest and died.
Ms Jones continued her account:
It was our first real break after lockdown and the holiday was fine it was just the journey back that was a nightmare.
Airlines should do more to protect people who have nut allergies – they should ban nuts completely from all flights and if someone refuses to obey then action should e taken on them as well.
Surely someone’s life is worth more than eating a few nuts? It’s crazy that more isn’t being done about this issue. All the cabin crew can do is ask someone not to eat nuts and that’s it – it’s ridiculous.
I honestly thought she was going to die and it’s now put me off flying in the future because I just can’t take the risk again.
Poppy and I feel that it is in others best interests that people know what can happen and we hope for a change in legislation to ban nuts completely onboard flights and for their to be consequences for those who ignore this.
A spokesman for British Airways said:
The safety and welfare of our customers is always our priority, and we take the issue of allergens very seriously.
Our crew cared for a customer who appeared to suffer an allergic reaction onboard, and they arranged for paramedics to meet the aircraft.
The company added that there were no issues with the onboard equipment and that the crew followed all procedures.
We are grateful that tragedy was averted and Poppy survived the ordeal thanks to the quick actions of her mother and the good samaritan nurse who stepped up in their moment of crisis.
As for the unidentified man who, despite warnings that there was a severely allergic passenger aboard couldn’t be bothered to skip the peanuts, we leave it to karma to give him his proper comeuppance.
We call on airlines to reconsider their procedures regarding allergies. There is no reason peanuts or tree nuts — two food allergies where airborne reactions have been reported — need to be served on flights when there is an allergic individual aboard, and other food allergies where contact is a concern need to be better accommodated as well.
We also implore our readers who have been prescribed epinephrine to always take two auto-injectors along everywhere, every time they leave home. In this case, prompt administration of epinephrine may have been the difference between life and death.