Group working with airlines to make flying safer for people with food allergies

By Dominique Sachse - Anchor

A severe allergic reaction is scary anywhere, but imagine it happens to your child thousands of feet in the air.

A local doctor was fortunately on the same flight as a child, having her first life-threatening reaction to a food allergy.

Dr. Patricia Leonard was on a flight when a 4-year-old girl on the plane became deathly ill.

She was having an allergic reaction to cashews.

"She was having throat tightness, clearing her throat, coughing," said Leonard.

Fortunately Leonard is a board-certified allergy specialist.

This was the girl's first- ever allergic reaction.

Her family didn't have an Epi-Pen and airlines aren't required to have auto-injectors on flights, just the drug Epinephrin.

"We had to go to the medic bag to find the Epinephrin," said Leonard.

Leonard needed to measure out the life-saving dosage, insert a syringe and injected the little girl and saved her life.

"If [auto-injectors] were on the flight there would be no worry whether there was a healthcare provider on the flight," said Leonard.

Now FARE - food allergy research and education - is working with the airlines to make changes.

Food allergies affect one in 13 people.

"With that kind of prevalence you have to understand that's going to cause industries to have to change," said Mike Lade, FARE Board Member.

"You can have a serious allergic reaction anywhere at anytime," said Leonard.

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