'Every flight, I risk my life': Young mum suffers allergic reaction mid-flight, leaving kids fearing she'd die

  • 08/11/2018

A young woman with a life-threatening peanut allergy says her children were terrified when she suffered an allergic reaction mid-flight.

Amber Lee did not ingest any nuts on a domestic flight within Australia on Monday, but believes leftover nut residue from another passenger triggered a severe reaction.

The Queensland mother-of-two said her daughters were affected "emotionally in a huge way", thinking she would die on the plane.

"I'm not afraid of the worst for myself, but I am afraid of the worst for my children," told Newshub.

Ms Lee explained that she travels often for her job as a speech pathologist.

"Every flight, I have to risk my life, when you don't have kids it's a different ball game, but it does affect me more now."

Having a speciality in paediatric feeding she is required to fly around Australia and internationally to train other health professionals.

She revealed this isn’t the first time she has had a reaction. In 2011 she was faced with a difficult situation when symptoms began to appear, while pregnant with her eldest.

"On the ground, I’ve had anaphylactic shock, organs start to shut down, heart stops beating, but I’ve never been into cardiac arrest."

She said she is required to take a lot of precautions and has always lived within 15 minutes of a hospital.

"There's a perception Epipens will save you, but really they just buy you time. If you do go into shock or cardiac arrest, you need a lot more adrenaline that a few pens."

Ms Lee wants the airlines to change their policy or at least an emergency kit with the right tools.

"If they have that then no one will ever die from any allergen in the air," Ms Lee said.

In a lengthy post on her Facebook page, she explained the hardships of having a high-risk allergy, wanting to raise awareness around some of the ways a reaction can be prevented.

"Having a life threatening airborne allergy is like boarding a plane and enduring the whole flight with a person holding a loaded gun to your head. It is horrible," she wrote, alongside a photo of her badly swollen face.

She encouraged others to avoid bringing nuts on planes or purchasing them while in the sky.

"If demand stops, they may be more receptive to taking them off the menu," Ms Lee wrote.

"Be supportive of those living with this. It truly is an insanely traumatic thing to live with."

A Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo7 News they had been made aware of Ms Lee's experience and were trying to make contact with her.

"Jetstar does not sell peanuts and we have medical equipment on board in the event that a customer suffers a severe allergic reaction," they said.

"However we do have some in-flight meals and snacks which contain traces of nuts. These meals and snacks are clearly labelled.

"As other customers may bring their own food on board, we are not able to guarantee a nut-free cabin."

Ms Lee acknowledged that statistically, people who have life-threatening reactions to the smell of an allergen "are very small", but hopes others understand the severity of it for those who suffer.

"Allergens are everywhere, along with horrible reactions," she said.

"But if we could at least try to reduce the number of airborne allergens served or present in confined spaces, it would be an awesome step forward."