A 14 year old boy recently died from anaphylaxis after eating popcorn at his local Odeon. This just breaks my heart, because it’s avoidable. Why am I still reading about deaths from anaphylaxis where people are not carrying their adrenaline, and don’t follow the recommended advice?
I’m not trying to pass blame on the family. My heart goes out to them. They thought they were being responsible by ordering a snack their son had eaten safely before. And they thought they were taking the right action by getting him help, going home and getting his Epipen, but moving someone who is having an allergic reaction can trigger a much more severe outcome.
Why are people not told this?
Why are people not carrying their adrenaline?
When someone has been prescribed an adrenaline auto injector whose responsibility is to make sure they know how serious this condition is? Who explains the protocols, guidelines and advice? Is it their doctor, allergy specialist, pharmacist? All too often people are not told this important advice unless they engage with charities and the online community. We are failing these families. This needs to be addressed before another allergy death.
I have a few comments on what could have been done differently.
- Always carry two adrenaline auto injectors with you at ALL TIMES and administer at first sign of symptoms. Early treatment is so important.
- Always, always check, ask and tell any food servers about your allergies. Don’t assume a previously safe snack or meal is still safe.
- Guidance would suggest that he should not have moved, and instead administered anti-histamines and adrenaline and called 999 from the cinema. Obviously this was not possible.The family had to return home when he started to feel unwell, a short distance away, to retrieve his adrenaline.
- They then drove to the hospital and when he began to have trouble breathing his father administered adrenaline and his mother commenced CPR. I cannot imagine what this must have been like for the parents. The ambulance then arrived, took over his care and took him to hospital where he later passed away. This part of the story is confusing, were they driving in their car or were they in an ambulance? Whatever happened it was all too little too late.
- His mother wondered whether she should have administered adrenaline into his chest for better effect. Just in case anyone else might be thinking the same, you should always administer your auto-injector into the outer mid thigh. Never the chest.
You can read the article, Boy 14, who died after eating popcorn at cinema here.
It just makes me so sad.
I don’t want to read another news story about an allergy death where the person did not have their adrenaline with them. It’s no use to you at home.
I’m nervous about posting this because I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming the parents. I’m not. I have had allergic reactions and not administered adrenaline when I’ve had the pens with me, because I thought my breathing was OK and I wouldn’t need to. I have been wrong many times before and learnt the hard way that early adrenaline is the way to go. Don’t wait until you really cannot breathe to inject. Inject straight away. The saying goes, if in doubt, inject!
This is so sad but if it encourages more people to remember to carry their adrenaline, his death will not have been in vain.
For anyone who is unsure of the correct procedure to follow in the case of anaphylaxis, please read: 20 life saving tips for anaphylaxis here.