Anyone who’s experienced allergies, even the most measly ones that just show up as rashes or a bout of pimples, will tell you that allergies are not to be trifled with. Taking an allergy too lightly is like playing a countrywide lottery, you are almost sure to lose!
Yet, most of us have heard of allergic reaction deaths caused by food allergies (milk, eggs and nuts for example) and allergies to prescription medicines; while not everyone’s heard of death by allergies to contraceptive implants (still under investigation), or even death by allergies to products such as tattoo ink and glue. Here are 10 of the most shocking allergic reaction deaths ever. I guarantee, the last one will definitely leave you shell shocked, if the rest are still remotely believable!
10) The Deadly Tattoo
Tragedy is when a healthy 23 year old, standing at the prime of her life and health, dies of a vicious allergic reaction. Italian student, Federica Lammatteo had gone in to a tattoo parlor to get herself inked again. She had visited the same parlor several times before for her multiple tattoos, and hence she least expected there to be any kind of problem. Then came the cruel shock. The morning after she got her lower back tattooed, she showed signs of an allergic reaction and complained of fever and tingly ‘pins and needles’ sensations. She then went into septic shock and started hemorrhaging. Her symptoms deteriorated so rapidly that despite medical intervention, the family could do nothing to save her. A manslaughter investigation against ‘unknown persons’ has been started and it is believed that the beautiful young girl simply had an allergic reaction to the ink used in her tattoo!
9) Death By Painkillers
Well, we all remember Bruce Lee, right? (I mean who doesn’t?). Well, this most favorite of Kung Fu masters died of an allergic reaction to the prescription painkiller, Equagesic. Not to give painkillers an unnecessary bad rep, but the beloved American martial arts star suffered a cerebral edema after he ingested his medication, claims his widow, Lindo Lee Cadwell. The death may indeed be the most massive of tragedies, since the world lost such unbelievable and incomparable talent, but this particular, ‘death by allergic reaction’ theory at least sounds a lot more plausible than the other theories floating around. What theories you ask? Those that claim that Lee’s death was a successful conspiracy executed by a group of the world’s Kung Fu experts, who simply killed him for exposing their trade secrets. Now that’s the mother of all conspiracy theories, no?
8) Deadly Wasp Stings
One of the more recent of shocking allergic reaction deaths was that of Lucie Roussel, the Mayor of La Prairie, a town in the South of Montreal. The 51 year old Mayor stepped on a wasp’s nest near her cottage and had reportedly been stung at least 15 times before she was rushed to hospital. Though friends were adamant that Ms. Roussel was not allergic to venom, it is possible that she was allergic to wasps and was totally unaware of it. She was pronounced dead at a hospital in Theford Mines, Quebec, where she was transported for treatment. It is not yet clear whether the mayor lost her life to an anaphylaxis reaction (which can even occur after one sting), or to a toxic reaction which requires at least 15 stings. Whatever the case, the sad truth remains that the conscientious Mayor was part of the 2 percent statistic of people allergic to wasp venom, and has thus lost her life in this horribly sad manner.
7) That Killer Latex
Ever heard of a latex allergy? It is more common than you think, and just as life altering as any other allergies. Imagine this, you cannot wear latex shoes, latex clothes, latex underwear or swimwear, and you even have to shun condoms and latex gloves for that matter. Unbelievable no? Well, 40 year old retired U.S Navy Lieutenant, Harold R. Henderson lost his life to this latex allergy. Hal, as he is fondly remembered, had been ill for quite a while and was undergoing treatment at the Balboa Naval Hospital when respiratory and cardiac complications, attributed to his latex allergy, caused him to have a massive heart attack. He was put on life support but he could not pull through. Hal has been a great contributor of information on latex allergies and has done much work to help others through the “needless loss of career, health and self-esteem” that this allergy brings with it.
6) Killer Hair Extensions
For someone who had been using hair extensions from the age of 20, it is truly a cruel joke that, Atasha Graham died at the age of 34, due to an anaphylactic shock caused by an allergic reaction to the glue used for her hair extensions. While her autopsy has confirmed allergic death, the exact cause could not be conclusively identified. Since there were no traces of drug, alcohol or another foods known to be allergens, her hair extensions seem to be the most likely culprits. After a night out clubbing, Atasha returned home at 6:30 a.m to suddenly collapse and stop breathing. Despite attempts to resuscitate her, and even after administering first aid, she never really regained consciousness and died later in hospital. Pathologists claim that there are 10 to 20 such allergic deaths each year, where the patients react adversely to their hair extension glue!
5) The Cell Phone Suicide
Okay! So technically, this death’s a suicide, but if you’d just read more about it, you’d know why it has been listed here. In 2012, an unusual suicide hit the news. The suicide was not unusual in the manner it was committed, but it was unusual for the reasons it was committed for. Violinist Michael Nield committed suicide simply because he could no longer cope with his allergy to cellphone radiation. The Oxford graduate was extremely sensitive to the radiation emitted from cellphones, and he could no longer bear the agony he lived with on a day to day basis. Despite taking unnatural measures to cope with his allergy, such as relocating 100 miles away, wearing microfiber suits and sleeping in microfiber tents, Nield had to resort to the truly extreme measure of suicide to end his torture.
4) The Smell That Killed
Though death is always a hard fact to swallow, it is at least a little more palatable to hear of death when someone has actually ingested something he or she was allergic to; but to just die from the smell of an allergen is quite frankly, just too much and a million times scarier as well. Kathy Tague DiGirolamo was on her second honeymoon with her husband Rob, when tragic events unfolded and led to her untimely death. Kathy had bronchial asthma and also had an allergy to shellfish. While the couple was in a restaurant, a waiter passed by their table with a platter of shrimp and just the whiff of the platter seemed to have triggered an extreme allergic reaction. Despite using her asthma inhaler and getting the help of 3 doctors who were also dining there that night, Kathy’s heart stopped and she was declared dead at a local hospital. Allergy experts maintain that while airborne allergens are extremely rare, they do exist and they strike without warning in most cases.
3) The Kiss Of Death
In 2005, a 15 year old teen with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, in Quebec, Canada. Hospital officials confirmed that the contact with allergens had come from the kiss, as her boyfriend had just eaten a peanut butter snack. Christina Desforges battled in a Quebec hospital for days before she succumbed to her allergy, after doctors failed to treat her symptoms. Though Canadian figures are not that easily available, in America alone, over 1.5 million people are severely allergic to peanuts and peanut products, and account for approximately a hundred annual deaths. This case highlights the importance of the precautions that must be taken by the near and dear ones, family and friends who come in close contact with people living with such allergies.
2) The Sex That Killed
A 43 years old woman died of an allergic reaction in the most unusual of circumstances in Ireland. Carol Hickey, a mother of four, died of an allergic reaction to dog semen after she performed sexual acts with an Alsatian dog, for the first time. 57 years old, Sean McDonnell has been charged under Irish law for ordering his dog to do the ‘act’. The ‘arrangement’ was made online, on a bestiality Internet chat room and it seems the intercourse was consensual. After the woman fell ill and was rushed to Mid-Western Regional Hospital, it was diagnosed that it was an anaphylaxis reaction. The dog has been quarantined since the incident, and McDonnell faces a life sentence if the charges against him stick. Now, isn’t this something that’s truly shocking and unexpected!
1) Death By The Sunshine
The sun may be a giving force to all living things on earth, but there are some that shun it like a plague. Yefim A., a welder in the city of Ufa, was exposed to radiation in his early life and had hence, developed photo contact dermatitis, an allergy to sunlight. This rare allergy left the man dead in his apartment, in the peak of summer heat in Russia. His cardiac arrest was caused by acute coronary insufficiency, which was in turn caused by exposure to sunlight (and the +36 Centigrade heat did not help matter). Pain killing medications were found next to his body, indicating that he might have been in pain for a while before his death. The disease, though rare, runs in his whole family and every member has to take necessary precautions, no matter where they go. Yefim himself would always be wrapped up in layers of clothes and only in winters, would he leave narrow openings for his eyes. Imagine having to live with that!