The parents of former online producer who worked on ITV’s This Morning revealed the devastating effects a severe nut allergy had on their daughter.
Amy-May Shead, 29, who appeared on the show in a wheelchair, was on holiday with her friends in Budapest in 2014 when just one bite of her chicken and rice dish in a restaurant caused an anaphylaxis reaction.
Despite Amy telling the restaurant that she couldn’t have anything with nuts, just one mouthful of the chicken and rice dish she had selected led to the catastrophic reaction.
Two doses of her EpiPen failed to contain the reaction and emergency services were called, but Amy had been starved of oxygen for nearly six minutes and was left in a coma.
Now severely brain damaged, Amy lives with the effects of the allergic reaction to nuts and her parents Roger and Sue Shead are fighting for allergies to be taken more seriously.
Presenters Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, who worked closely with Amy on the show, also vowed to support them. Eamonn said: ‘As we’re on here and we know you, we will be fighting for these nuts to be banned on flights.’
Ruth asked Amy, who is unable to speak but can understand what was being said, what she thought of the debate and she communicated by blinking that she agreed there should be a ban in place.
Amy-May Shead, centre, with her mother Sue and This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford, who was a former colleague of Amy’s
Amy (back row, centre) was an online producer for This Morning before she had a devastating reaction to nuts
Amy was on holiday in Budapest when she ate just one mouthful of a chicken and rice dish at a restaurant that the chef had assured her was nut-free. She was left in a coma and is now severely brain damaged
Ruth added: ‘You’re so brave for coming on here, we all love to see you and we miss you on here.’
Amy’s mother Sue explained that whenever her daughter travelled she would carry a card in the language of the country explaining of her allergy.
Sue said that Amy had told the restaurant that she couldn’t have anything with nuts and the chef had also been informed of the allergy, unfortunately just one mouthful of the chicken and rice dish she had selected, led to the catastrophic reaction.
Amy worked closely with Eamonn and Ruth and was often seen working away in the background on the on-air segments
Amy administered two shots of her EpiPen – and epinephrine autoinjector used in the the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis – but it failed to counteract the allergy and it took half an hour for the medics to bring her back round.
Amy was placed on life-support when she arrived at the hospital in Budapest and her parents were told she may not survive the week, and was given just a thirty per cent chance of survival.
After she was stabilised she was then flown home and treated in St Thomas’ hospital, London.
Since the incident, Amy’s parents had to sell their home to fund the costs of the hospital treatment as the insurance didn’t cover their daughter’s condition. They rely on a trust set up in her name, The Amy-May Foundation.
They are backing a recent call for any nut-based snacks to be banned on any flights after a three-year-old recently suffered a severe allergic aboard a plane.
Singapore Airlines said they would review their policies on nuts in-flight after three-year-old Marcus Daley, who was returning home to Melbourne with his parents, had an anaphylaxis reaction when his fellow passengers were eating nuts.
His parents administered medication and were able to stop the reaction but it sparked a debate regarding how serious allergies are taken.
Amy lives with the effects of her allergic reaction to nuts, although she is brain damaged and unable to communicate, she is able to understand conversations around her
Amy’s parents Sue and Roger (far right) want allergies to be taken more seriously and are also backing a recent call for nut-based snacks to be banned on planes
Dr Zoe Williams, who joined Roger, Sue and Amy on the ITV couch, explained how different types of allergies can affect those who suffer.
‘It’s really important to make clear lots of people have different reactions.
‘Lots of people suffer from food intolerances like gluten and dairy, and even with allergies. Allergies are when your immune system responds to something that is harmless and thinks it’s harmful.
‘Lots of people have mild allergies to things like dust mites or pollen. But anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions are completely different.
‘Just a particle of that allergen, like nut dust in a plane can cause somebody to have an allergic reaction and the second one being the body secretes the chemicals that causes the reaction into the bloodstream so it happens all across the body.
‘It is an absolute medical emergency,’ Dr Zoe explained.
This Morning airs weekdays on ITV at 10.30am
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO NUTS
Peanuts and tree nuts can cause allergic reactions, which are sometimes severe.
A severe reaction to nuts is called anaphylaxis and can be life-threatening.
Symptoms often start quickly, within an hour of coming into contact with a nut, and sometimes within minutes.
The body’s immune system normally fights infection, but when a person is allergic to tree nuts or peanuts, the immune system overreacts to proteins in these foods.
Every time the person eats or, in some cases, handles or breathes in a peanut or tree nut, the body thinks the proteins are harmful invaders.
The immune system responds by kicking into high gear to fend off the ‘invader’.
This causes an allergic reaction and symptoms can include:
- Trouble breathing
- Itchy, watery, or swollen eyes
- A drop in blood pressure