‘I can’t breathe, I’m suffocating daddy, help me’: Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s father tells how he watched his 15-year-old daughter die from allergic reaction to Pret sandwich
- Nadim Ednan-Laperouse was travelling home from dream trip to Nice in 2016
- He shared a Pret baguette with his daughter but within in an hour she collapsed
- She went into cardiac arrest from concealed sesame seed while 35,000ft in air
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s father has described his despair as he helplessly watched his 15-year-old daughter die from an allergic reaction to a Pret sandwich.
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse was travelling home with his daughter, who had a deadly nut allergy, and her friend from a dream trip to Nice on July 17, 2016.
He shared an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette with Natasha just before boarding the British Airways flight but within an hour she had lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest.
The high-street chain had failed to label its packaging and disclose that the sandwich contained sesame seeds – a fatal ingredient for Natasha.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s father (pictured) has described his despair as he helplessly watched his 15-year-old daughter die from an allergic reaction to a Pret sandwich
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: ‘Probably about half an hour into the flight she started having issues with her breathing.
‘Very quickly, in a matter of minutes, it got worse and worse and worse. And she’s struggling to breathe sitting in the seat and she’s saying, ”Daddy can you give me my EpiPen,” which is a branded name for an auto-injector of adrenaline.
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse was travelling home with his daughter Natasha (pictured), who had a deadly nut allergy, and her friend from a dream trip to Nice on July 17, 2016
‘She said, ”Can we go to the toilet and you can inject me,” and she was sitting on the loo and I pulled her leggings down and got the pen ready to fire and jabbed it into her thigh.
‘The situation didn’t get any better and within another 30 seconds Natasha says, ”I can’t breathe, I’m suffocating Daddy help me. Please get the other pen,” she urged me and that’s just the few words she could get out.
‘I repeated the same process again, jabbed it into her thigh, with a sense of urgency now and almost sweat coming out of my whole body thinking ”this is not going right at all”.
‘She was getting worse. We got her out of the toilet quickly and I got an oxygen mask on her face but she just passed out and went into cardiac arrest.
‘You just can’t imagine having a small amount of something and your child dying in front of you. It’s just unthinkable.’
Mr Ednan-Laperouse spoke out about the horrific ordeal on Channel 4’s new programme which aims to shed light on the issues surround food allergies – Food Unwrapped Investigates.
He added: ‘The sandwich had a label on it saying what was in it and there was no mention of sesame seeds at all and nothing visible.
He shared an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette with Natasha (pictured on the flight, moments before she died) just before boarding the British Airways flight but within an hour she had lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest
‘She looked at it, I looked at it and it looked absolutely fine so we ate the sandwich just before we boarded the plane.’
The documentary was released in the same month that Natasha’s Law was unveiled – a rule which forces food chains to carry proper allergen warnings.
Natasha’s mother, Tanya, said: ‘Natasha’s Law means complete labelling of all ingredients for all packaged food that’s been made on the same site as where it’s sold.’
When asked whether she believed the law would do enough to protect people with food allergies Tanya said: ‘No.
The high-street chain had failed to label its packaging and disclose that the sandwich contained sesame seeds – a fatal ingredient for Natasha
Mr Ednan-Laperouse injected his daughter with an EpiPen. He said: ‘The situation didn’t get any better and within another 30 seconds Natasha says, ”I can’t breathe, I’m suffocating Daddy help me. Please get the other pen,” she urged me and that’s just the few words she could get out’
The documentary was released in the same month that Natasha’s Law was unveiled – a rule which forces food chains to carry proper allergen warnings. Natasha’s mother, Tanya (pictured), said: ‘Natasha’s Law means complete labelling of all ingredients for all packaged food that’s been made on the same site as where it’s sold’
Terrifying air ordeal that began just three minutes after Natasha bit into her sandwich
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, who was allergic to sesame, died after eating a Pret baguette that didn’t list it as an ingredient
July 17, 2016: BA flight BA342 from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Nice lasted approximately 1 hour 50 mins.
9.50am: Natasha bought the sandwich and around developed an itchy throat arounnd three minutes later.
10.15am: After take off she took a dose of Piriton to try and counter the itchy throat.
10.45am: Natasha developed large red welts on her stomach and her father took her to the toilet and administered two EpiPens.
10.50am: Natasha loses consciousness.
10.55am until 11.45am: Doctor Pearson Jones attended to Natasha for the next 50 minutes, including CPR when she suffered a cardiac arrest while the flight was descending into Nice.
Midday: Five French paramedics attend to her while the plane is on the tarmac for around an hour. She is then transported to the local A&E department but her heart failed to properly restart.
8pm: Natasha is pronounced dead in hospital.
‘That just covers one part of society and how food is sold and how allergic people have to navigate around food but there are definitely many other areas that need to be looked at.’
Natasha was left to suffocate at 35,000 feet in the air, with only the help of a junior doctor passenger who graduated the day before the flight and performed CPR.
But British Airways staff didn’t inform him there was a defibrillator on board and claimed they were not able to use it because the plane was landing and they needed to watch the plane’s doors.
In 2018 Coroner Dr Sean Cummings said the food giant store did not think monitoring potentially fatal food allergens was ‘something to be taken seriously’.
Describing the labels on packages and stickers in store he said: ‘I am of the view that they were inadequate in terms of visibility’.
And blasting their culture he said: ‘Overall I am left with the impression that Pret had not addressed the fact that monitoring food allergy in a business selling more than 200million items a year was something to be taken very seriously indeed.’
He then addressed her overwhelmed father, mother and brother he said: ‘I can’t imagine how this was for you on that day’.
Dr Cummings also slammed her ‘terrible’ ordeal on the BA flight where Natasha’s heart stopped but cabin crew said it was too dangerous to get a defibrillator because they were descending to land and needed to stand by the doors.
Outside West London Coroner’s Court, with her brother Alex clutching a picture of his sister, Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: ‘If Pret was following the law – then the law was playing Russian Roulette with my daughter’s life’.
He added that the tragedy of Natasha’s death ‘should serve as a watershed moment to make meaningful change to save lives’.
Food Unwrapped Investigates continues Mondays 8:30pm on Channel 4 and is available to catch up on All4.
What is Natasha’s Law?
In the wake of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s death, her parents, Tanya and Nadim, campaigned for a ‘Natasha’s Law’ to ensure that all food carries warning labels about allergens.
Before the law came into place, retailers were exploiting a gap in the law which meant producers did not have to put ingredient or allergen labels on food that was made on-site.
Mr and Mrs Ednan-Laperouse argued for the most rigorous option – that all ingredients must be shown. But they fear that move could face objections from the food industry on cost grounds.
They said only ‘full and transparent labelling’ will give people the information they need to stay safe. ‘Anything less cannot be a law in Natasha’s name,’ they said.
As of October 2021, all food retailers must clearly label all foods packed and produced on their premises with a complete list of ingredients.