Twenty-six-year-old Efrat Chen's evening out at a restaurant in Tel Aviv ended in tragedy last Thursday, due to a nut allergy.
Chen had ordered Belgian waffles asking the waiters to make sure the dish did not contain any nuts in it, as she was allergic. According to the staff at the Soraski Medical Center, she was assured of the fact that the chocolate in the dish was made of plain chocolate and did not contain nuts or the popular hazelnut spread, "Nutella."
Within a few hours, the young woman developed a severe allergic reaction to the dessert. She was hospitalized for a week in the Soraski Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit, but her situation deteriorated. On Thursday morning doctors had no choice but do declare her brain dead.
The chocolate spread is not recommended for people suffering from nut allergies as nuts are the main ingredient.
The Soraski Medical Center stated that "The 26-year-old spent Thursday, July 14, with her friends at a Tel Aviv coffee shop where she ordered Belgian waffles while clearly stating, according to her friends' testimonies, that she was allergic to nuts, and confirming that the chocolate used in the dish was of a brand that had no nut content... It seems that the dish did indeed include chocolate which contained nuts of some sort, despite her explicit request.
"Upon admission, she presented symptoms of sever respiratory failure, associated with an allergic reaction to nuts. Unfortunately, despite the doctors' effort to save her live, there was no choice but to declare her brain dead. Her family had agreed to donate her organs," the hospital's statement concluded.
Dvora Szerer, spokeswoman for the National Transplant Center has confirmed that Chen's family agreed to donate her organs, saying: "The family has agreed to donate their daughter's organs, making their tragedy an opportunity to save the lives of others."
Naama Katzir from the food allergy advice and counseling association said about that her group "offers our deepest condolences to the family. Sadly we are not surprised by the event. Restaurants, as well as food manufacturers, constantly treat the issue with worrying recklessness.
"Moreover, the Health Ministry has sadly been dragging its feet for over three years and is tarrying over launching regulations for the marking of food products. Over the last few years there have been a vast number of harsh allergic reactions, mainly with children. Sadly both cases ended like this tragic case – in death.
"There is nothing left to be said other than we hope that this case will lead the decision makers and food manufacturers to wake up."
Dr. Itay Gal contributed to the report