Monday, January 14, 2013

Another Heartbreaking Food Allergy Death of a Teen

by Kelley Lindberg

It’s a tragic way to start a new year. The Daily Mail website reports that William Luckett, a 15-year-old boy in Great Britain, died on December 29 after eating two bites of take-out food from a Chinese restaurant. He ordered spare ribs that were cooked in a peanut sauce. He did not have his EpiPen with him. (See “Nut Allergy Teenager, 15, Dies After Two Bites of Chinese Takeaway Spare Ribs Marinated in Peanut Sauce.”)

The family says he had ordered them before without problems, and that they didn’t know the ribs were cooked in peanut sauce. The restaurant says they were clearly labeled on the menu as having nuts. The restaurant owner even added, 'If a customer has allergies then they have to tell us and we are very careful not to include what they are allergic to in the dish. I know how important it is because my son has allergies.”

How awful for the boy’s family. And how awful for the restaurant owner, cook, and servers.

The Daily Mail also reports that another U.K. teen, 18-year-old Emma Egerton died after eating Indian food cooked in nut oil and containing ground almonds in December. And another student, 22-year-old Preethi Koshy, spent three days on a life-support machine last year after eating a “nut-free” cake that actually contained 55% peanuts. (Fortunately, Koshy recovered.)

These deaths and near-deaths are tragic, and I hope that someday, with new advances in food allergy treatment and cures, these stories will stop. In the meantime, if there is anything we can learn from them, it must be to:

1. Never assume, and always check! (Even if you’ve eaten that food before.)

2. Always carry your EpiPen.

We’re often told the most common victims of anaphylactic death from food allergy are teenagers who aren’t carrying EpiPens. If you know any teens who are food allergic, please show them this article. Carrying an EpiPen may not be “cool” and it might be a little inconvenient, but it’s not nearly as inconvenient as dying. Please don't leave your friends and family mourning a promising life cut short.

The hearts and prayers of the entire food allergy community go out to the families of these unfortunate young people.

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