A Quebecois woman has shared the tragic story of her daughter's death, which resulted from kissing her new boyfriend after he ate a peanut butter sandwich.
Myriam Ducré-Lemay, 20, kissed her boyfriend after he ate a late-night snack when the pair returned to his home from a night out in 2012, her mother said.
She wasn’t aware that the snack had been a peanut butter sandwich and he didn’t know that his new girlfriend was severely allergic to peanuts, her mother, Micheline Ducré, told the Journal De Quebec.
“Unfortunately, she wouldn’t have had the time to tell him she had a peanut allergy,” the mother said.
The boyfriend had brushed his teeth before kissing Myriam, who then began having trouble breathing, Michele Ducré said in her first interview since her daughter’s death.
When they realized what was happening, the couple called emergency responders, who arrived within minutes and rushed Myriam to the hospital.
But the young woman was unable to be intubated and in spite of the EpiPen dose she received from medical officials, Myriam could not be saved.
She was found to have suffered severe cerebral anoxia, a form of hypoxia where the brain is completely deprived of oxygen, and was declared dead at the hospital.
It was only days earlier that Myriam confided in her mother that she was in love.
“It’s the first time I saw my daughter with such bright eyes,” Micheline Ducré said.
The mother is speaking out to raise awareness to the dangers of allergies.
Though she typically carried an EpiPen, Myriam did not have the epinephrine auto-injector to treat an allergic reaction and was not wearing a Medic Alert bracelet the night she died, her mother said. Either could have helped save her daughter’s life.
“This is why you have to carry your EpiPen, even though you don’t want to and even though it’s not cool,” said Dr. Christine McCusker, head of pediatric allergy and immunology at Montreal Children’s Hospital, to CTV Montreal.
“The most important part of managing your allergies is that you have to inform people,” she continued. “You have to say, ‘Listen guys, I have food allergies. I have my EpiPen. If there is a problem, help me.’”
Myriam had been allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish since she was 3 years old, her mother told the Journal.
Investigators said the young woman may have believed her allergy had become less severe, but McCusker said that only one in five people typically outgrow a peanut allergy.
“People don’t necessarily recognize (that) it can go from that point where, ‘I feel funny,’ to ‘Uh oh’ very fast,” she said, noting that traces of allergens, such as peanuts, can stay in an individual's saliva for up to four hours after eating the food.
Approximately 2.5 million Canadians have at least one food allergy, and 300,000 Canadian children under the age of 18 have food allergies, according to Food Allergy Canada.
“When you look at the fatalities, many of the people who have died have often been young people, teenagers and young adults,” Laurie Harada, executive director of Food Allergy Canada, said to Global News after the September 2015 death of Andrea Mariano.
Mariano was a college student with peanut and dairy allergies who went into anaphylactic shock after drinking a smoothie that she had on her second day of school.
Similar findings were cited in the United States, where Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) reported that teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis.
Though deaths from peanut allergies are rate, HealthResearchFunding.org notes that “Up to 33% of those who have peanut allergies have reactions that are classified as ‘serious.’”
This is why, four years after her daughter’s death, that Micheline Ducré said she decided to speak out to inform people of the very real danger of allergies.
Saying she was very close to her daughter, Micheline Ducré wrote on Facebook: “The awareness and knowledge are the key in all this.”