Essex

Nut allergy: Family renews warning for Christmas

Amy May Shead Image copyright AMY MAY TRUST
Image caption A trust set up in Amy's name will fight for greater awareness of the dangers of nut allergies

The relatives of a young woman left brain-damaged after an allergic reaction to nuts are warning families of the hidden dangers over Christmas.

Amy May Shead, 32, suffered anaphylactic shock from a single bite of a chicken meal on a trip with friends to Hungary in 2014.

This is her first Christmas at home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, in five years.

Her aunt, Julie Martin, said Amy's condition has left her loved ones with "an overwhelming sense of loss".

The former ITV producer was left partially paralysed, and unable to see or speak properly after she suffered a severe reaction during the meal at a restaurant in Budapest.

She spent five years in hospital and has been receiving 24-hour care in a specially-adapted annex of her parents' home since March.

Image copyright Sue Shead
Image copyright AMY MAY TRUST
Image caption Amy May Shead is spending her first Christmas at home after five years in care

Mrs Martin, who runs the Amy May Trust with her son Tom, said it has been "a challenge to adjust to a completely different way of life."

"Those who are living with an allergy are never complacent," she said.

"But at busy times of the year such as Christmas, when staff in restaurants and bars are extra stretched - and the risk is perhaps greater of messages being relayed to kitchens becoming confused or missed - Amy's story is a graphic reminder of the effect that an anaphylactic reaction can have."

The trust has been meeting officials from Airlines UK and the Department for Transport to push for better in-flight policies for those who travel with severe nut allergies.

A petition calling for a ban on nuts and nut products on airlines has raised more than 350,000 signatures since it was established in August 2017.

Image copyright Amy May Trust
Image caption Amy May, with her parents Roger and Sue, returned home to Westcliff-on-Sea in March
Image copyright AMY MAY TRUST
Image caption Catching up with "loyal friends" is a highlight, her family said

Miss Shead spent a year at both St Thomas' Hospital and the Putney Neurological Unit and lived at the Marillac Care centre in Brentwood for three years.

The Amy May Trust raises money for the intensive physiotherapy and speech and language therapy she receives four times a week.

The cost runs into several thousands a month, Mrs Martin said.

She said the family was looking forward to celebrating Amy's first Christmas at home after five years of specialist care.

"It's lovely to be able to say hello in the morning and goodnight at bedtime," Mrs Martin said.

"The transition home has made us realise just how tragically and terribly injured our beloved girl is."

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