When 14-year-old Emma Sloan began gasping for air during an allergic reaction, her mother, Caroline, thought her daughter would be fine after they located a nearby pharmacy. However, with no prescription on hand, Caroline was refused the EpiPen she required to save her daughter’s life. According to Caroline, Emma died on a Dublin, Ireland, street corner in front of her 20-year-old sister Amy and 2-year-old sister Mia.
"My daughter died on a street corner with a crowd around her,” Caroline told the Irish Herald. “I'm so angry I was not given the EpiPen to inject her. I was told to bring Emma to an A&E department. Emma was allergic to nuts and was very careful. How could a peanut kill my child? I want to appeal to parents of children with nut allergies to make sure their child always carries an EpiPen with them."
Emma was born with a severe peanut allergy that caused her to go into anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, whenever she came into contact with any type of nut. Out of all food allergies, a peanut allergy is considered the most common cause of an allergic reaction. While there is no cure for a food allergy, an EpiPen delivers a single dose of epinephrine to alleviate the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Caroline had taken her three daughters and their aunt Susan to Jimmy Chung’s all-you-can-eat restaurant to enjoy a night out with the family. Things took a fatal turn after Emma confused a peanut-based, satay sauce with a curry sauce. She immediately went into anaphylactic shock telling her mother, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” The family rushed out of the restaurant, in search of the nearest hospital or pharmacy.
Panic-stricken and terrified for her daughter’s life, Caroline informed the pharmacist of her daughter’s situation and requested the EpiPen. Without a prescription for the medication, Caroline was turned away and told to get her daughter to the nearest hospital. Tragedy struck on the family’s way to Temple Street Hospital when Emma took her last breath.
"He told me I couldn't get it without a prescription. He told me to bring her to an A&E,” Caroline told the Irish Herald. "I left and I knew we'd have to run all the way to Temple Street Hospital. But she only got as far as the corner of Abbey Street when she collapsed. She died on the footpath. A doctor was passing and tried to help and put her into the recovery position. Ambulance and fire brigade men worked on her. But she was gone.”
Irish Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland are launching full investigations into the death of Emma Sloan. Although Caroline does not recall seeing a “nuts contained” sign at Jimmy Chung’s, she did not wish to blame the restaurant.