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Mum of Pret allergy victim Natasha Ednan-Laperouse weeps at inquest after hearing defibrillator was not used in-flight

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The mother of a teenager who died after eating a baguette on a plane has burst into tears as an inquest heard the on-board defibrillator was not used in-flight.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, collapsed on a British Airways flight from London to Nice in July 2016 after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette.

The youngster, who had numerous allergies, reacted badly to sesame seeds in the bread, which caused her throat to tighten and vicious red hives to flare up across her midriff, eventually triggering cardiac arrest.

Two epipens were administered into her legs by her father, but she didn’t improve.

Natasha, from Fulham, west London, stopped breathing just “5-7 minutes” before the plane she was on stopped moving after landing, the inquest was told.

It heard evidence from the BA cabin crew, including into why the on-board defibrillator was not used in-flight.

Ednan-Laperouse family
Image:
A defibrillator was used on Natasha after landing when paramedics arrived.. Pic: Ednan-Laperouse family

BA crew manager Mario Ballestri, who helped junior doctor Thomas Pearson-Jones as he performed CPR on Natasha, said it would have been too dangerous to retrieve the device from the other end of the aircraft when she went into cardiac arrest minutes before landing.

Natasha’s mother, Tanya, cried as the head of cabin crew John Harris told the court: “Without sounding harsh, the coverage of doors takes priority.”

He explained that it was a formal requirement to ensure cabin crew were in position on landing in case of an emergency which would require passengers to leave the plane quickly.

“There were only five cabin crew on that particular flight and the aircraft had four sets of doors, totalling eight doors, and one cabin crew member was out of action.

“So we literally had the minimum number of crew to cover those doors,” he said.

The inquest heard that a defibrillator was used on Natasha after landing when paramedics arrived within minutes of the aircraft pulling into the stand.

But she was declared dead later the same day at a hospital in Nice.

Hillingdon Council food safety officer Bridget Saunders also gave evidence to the inquest and said she had found no issues with the food labelling and allergy information during an inspection of the Pret branch in February 2016.

Mrs Saunders seemed emotional as she addressed Natasha’s family, telling them: “I’m a food safety officer.

“My job is to ensure food outside the home is safe.

“I visited Pret A Manger five months before your daughter died.

“My opinion is there is a problem. I wouldn’t like to speculate what the problem is, that’s the role of the inquest.

“My job is to enforce the law as it stands and I did that five months before your daughter died.”

The inquest at West London Coroner’s Court has heard that food safety regulations allow businesses which produce food on site to provide reduced allergen labelling compared with factory-made products.

Mrs Saunders said: “I think the distinction was made really to deal with small, independent high street premises which perhaps prepare food on site and put it into a bag to sell to customers coming in.”

She added: “The regulations make no distinction with Pret, with their huge turnover.”

The inquest is due to last until Friday.

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