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Parents pay tribute to their 'wonderful' daughter, 16, who died from a severe allergic reaction

A teenager with a history of food allergies collapsed and died from a severe reaction after eating food including snacks bought at an oriental supermarket.

Twin Ellen Raffell, 16, went into cardiac arrest due to anaphylaxis in front of her family at their home in Blyth, Northumberland. 

Her parents Delyth and Graham performed CPR until paramedics arrived and she was transported her to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary intensive care unit.

Not enough oxygen was going to her brain and despite the efforts of hospital staff, she passed away peacefully four days later.

Ellen Raffell (pictured), 16, died after collapsing as a result of a severe allergic reaction in Blyth, Northumberland, on October 27, 2019

Newcastle Coroner's Court heard Ellen had eaten pomegranate seeds, a cheese sandwich and a number of snacks from an oriental supermarket before she went into cardiac arrest.

Dr Rachel Agbeko, paedeatric intensive care consultant at the RVI, said some of Ellen's medical history revealed she previously had a reaction to nuts and tests revealed positive signs for nuts, fish and shellfish in her system. 

Ellen's devastated family spoke of their pride for their 'kind and compassionate' daughter, adding her twin Abbey dreams about her visiting every night. 

Delyth and Graham said: 'It's difficult to put into words. It's like part of you is missing.

Ellen's (right) parents Delyth (second right) and Graham (left) spoke of their pride for their 'kind and compassionate' daughter, adding her twin Abbey (second left) dreams about her visiting every night

'Part of your heart is gone and will never come back. You can't fix it. There is nothing you can do to bring her back. 

'Ellen was the kindest, most compassionate girl. She always wanted to help others. She was such a wonderful girl and a ray of sunshine.

'Her twin sister Abbey says she sees her in her dreams every night so it's like she visits her.'

The Bede Academy pupil was excited to start a space engineering course at Loughborough National Space Academy in September 2020.

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is the result of the immune system, the body's natural defence system, overreacting to a trigger such as venom, food, or medication. 

It usually develops suddenly and gets worse very quickly. 

Symptoms include:

There may also be other allergy symptoms, including an itchy, raised rash (hives); feeling or being sick; swelling (angioedema) or stomach pain.

Source: NHS 

An inquest into her death was told medics initially believed she had an asthma attack due to her being in and out of hospital for many years with exacerbations.

But they later discovered the teenager had a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis on October 27, 2019, as a result of food she had eaten prior to her death.

Anaphylaxis is the result of the immune system, the body's natural defence system, overreacting to a trigger such as venom, food, or medication. 

It usually develops suddenly and gets worse very quickly. 

Dr Agbeko confirmed that she believed that the precipitator for Ellen's collapse and death was down to allergic reactions.

Newcastle Senior Coroner Karen Dilks said Ellen had an 'anaphylactic reaction to food she had eaten' and concluded she died of natural causes.

Ellen chose to donate her organs which her family say have gone on to help save and improve the lives of two young girls and two adults.

They set up charity Ellen's Gift of Hope to continue her legacy by supporting disadvantaged children living in Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside. 

The charity will support children in the North East who face challenges in life due health issues, special needs and disabilities.

A total of £12,000 was raised last year through a number of events with an ambitious target of making £25,000 in 2021.

Her parents added: 'We know Ellen will be looking down on us and we just want to make her proud.

'She always wanted to be a scientist. She didn't make it to do her course but she was so excited to go. We were really proud of her.

'There were only around 13 people on the course and she was the only girl. We have struggled to come to terms with her death.

'The only thing we can take from it was that it happened at home and we were all there.

Delyth and Graham set up charity Ellen's Gift of Hope to continue her legacy by supporting disadvantaged children living in Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside. Pictured: Delyth, Graham, Abbey and Ellen in 2007

'She always wanted to help others and she has been able to by donating parts of her eyes to two young girls and two young men with her kidneys.

'That is why the charity is vital to keep her name alive and let people remember her.' 

Dr Agbeko said the NHS was learning from Ellen's death with plans to introduce a nationwide educational programme about allergies and anaphylaxis among staff and the public to prevent other 'tragic incidents' occurring.

MS Dilks said: 'I'm pleased to hear the practice has been proactive as education is so important. What happened here was such an horrific event with an absolutely tragic outcome.

'People going to the their GP may want to ask questions so that it can be included in their care plans.'

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