As Francine Valerie Ingrassia flew back home to the U.S. from a vacation in Aruba with her four children on a first class American Airlines flight, she never expected that her ten-year-old son Luca would experience a near-fatal allergic reaction after eating a cashew in the high skies. Now, Ingrassia hopes to raise awareness and promote airline policy change to prevent similar emergencies in the future.
On Feb. 28, the Garden City, New York mom took to Facebook to detail the incident, which has since gone viral with over 2,000 reactions and nearly 1,300 shares.
“My son had Serious Anaphylaxis symptoms on our flight home last night. He ate one cashew from the nut mix he was served on our flight and within minutes he had severe stomach pain , chest pain and stridor breathing. If it was not for the quick thinking stewardess on the plane. The nurse who admistered the epi pen and cared for him the entire trip and passengers who gave us their epi pens this would have been fatal,” Ingrassia wrote.
“We were not aware of any allergies that our son had with cashews before this flight. The scariest thing was that American Airlines did not have an epi pen in their medical kits and served nuts on a plane? We need to change this. Shame on American Airlines for not having an epi pen in their medical kits,” she added.
Ingrassia further confirmed to Fox News that none of her four kids, ages 18, 15, 12 and 10-year-old Luca, have had any history of allergies to tree nuts or nuts.
“American Airlines staff had their hands tied because they were limited on what they could do to save my son's life since they had no medication to offer us from their medical kits. All they could offer was an emergency landing in the Dominican Republic, however, it could have been fatal at that point,” she said.
Frighteningly, board-certified allergist Dr. Bruce M. Prenner told Yahoo Lifestyle that sudden allergic reactions like Luca’s can dangerously happen without warning.
“Food allergies can develop suddenly with no prior warning, especially in regard to milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and eggs. We don’t understand it,” Prenner said. “We do know that carrying an epinephrine is crucial for reversing respiratory distress.
Moving forward, Ingrassia says that airlines must ensure they can fully protect passengers if they chose to serve any kind nuts during flights.
“My son’s story will be the platform to make a change because watching this unfold in front of me & my three children was terrifying. I am forever grateful for everyone on that flight who aligned themselves to save his life. Nurse Kelly, teen passengers who gave us their Epi-pens and staff,” Ingrassia told Fox News. “But I am so disappointed in AA as a corporation for endangering lives of so many passengers. I pray for change and change will happen if we come together on this.
“Nothing was more terrifying than being at 33,000 feet without being able to get the immediate medical attention you could on land. Let’s focus on making sure this never happens to anyone again,” the mom added.
Though American Airlines did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment, AA spokesperson Michelle Mohr offered Yahoo Lifestyle the following statement:
“We are grateful that Luca is O.K. and that our crew members and passengers, including a nurse, came together quickly to provide him the care he needed. We hope he is feeling better and understand how frightening the reaction must have been for him and his mother,” Mohr said.
“The medical kits onboard our aircraft comply with federal regulations and contain Epinephrine – the same medicine contained in an Epi-Pen. Our professional flight attendants are familiar with the contents of the onboard kits. They are able to provide general First Aid and are trained in CPR and using an AED. But we require a licensed medical professional to administer more extensive forms of treatment like injections for the health and safety of our customers,” she added.
“We are following up with our crew to thank them for moving quickly to take care of Luca and to learn more about the situation onboard and how they managed it,” Mohr concluded. “We thank our crew members and our passengers onboard for moving fast and working together to take care of Luca as quickly as possible.”