GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A family vacation to Aruba turned into a nightmare on the way home when a 10-year-old Long Island boy suffered a severe allergic reaction mid-flight.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Luca Ingrassia had no idea he was allergic to tree nuts when he and his family boarded the plane to fly home to Garden City.
“I had one cashew, and then my throat started to tickle and then my stomach started to hurt and then my chest started to hurt,” he told McLogan.
“Not knowing that he was going into anaphylactic shock,” his mother, Francine Ingrassia, added.
The airline staff had just handed out a mid-flight snack of mixed cashews, almonds and pistachios.
Francine cried for help and flight attendants made a serious announcement.
“I was scared, because I didn’t know what was going on at all,” Luca said.
“We had a nurse on board. We were lucky that we had two passengers that had EpiPens. What are the odds of that?” said Francine.
“I didn’t really know what an EpiPen was, so I was still kind of nervous,” Luca added.
The first auto-injector filled with epinephrine was defective.
“She looked in my throat and saw it closing,” said Luca.
The pilots considered an emergency landing when the second injection worked.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires all U.S. commercial airlines to carry defibrillators, known as AEDs, on passenger flights, with cabin crews trained to their use. But prior efforts mandating EpiPens on planes have stalled in Congress. Schools require them, but not airlines.
“We have to revive that bill now and we have to raise public awareness,” Francine said.
The International Air Transportation Association that represents 83 percent of airlines worldwide says for now, it’s up to each carrier. Only a handful stock EpiPens, while some have loose vials of epinephrine, which require a licensed medical professional.
“On land, I would have called 911. But in the air, what do you do?” said Francine. “I mean, this can save a life.
“This is life or death in the skies,” she added.
Luca now shares his parents’ mission to make the skies safer. The family wants the federal bill revived, requiring two packs of EpiPens per plane with crews members trained to use them.