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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
'Allergic reaction nearly killed me'
Ronnie Robb
Ronnie Robb nearly died
Ronnie Robb's life was placed in serious danger during a mountaineering trip to the Himalayas - but the threat was nothing to do with his perilous hobby.

Towards the end of the trip Ronnie developed a severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock after being bitten by an insect.

Within five minutes he was unconscious, and without urgent treatment he would have died.

Luckily, three of the members of his climbing party were doctors, and they were able to act fast.

They were able to give Ronnie a shot of adrenaline from supplies they were carrying within 20 minutes.

"I was very lucky to receive the treatment I did. I owe my life to them, and the speed with which they responded," said Ronnie.

"I had no idea that I would suffer from anaphylactic shock."


Ronnie Robb
Ronnie was stung by an insect
However, when Ronnie, from Aberdeen, arrived back in the UK, he found the NHS was unable to provide the same excellent standard of care.

Understandably, he wanted advice on what could potentially trigger a repeat episode - and what he could do to try to minimise the severity of his allergic response.

However, he was not able to see an allergy expert for more than 18 months.

"When I came back I was instructed to visit my GP and he rather despairingly suggested it would take up to two years before I could be seen by the local immunologist.

"As it turned out it was 18 months before I had my appointment, but that was a long, long time for somebody with the type of condition I have to wait for any other kind of advice or treatment.

"There just aren't enough immunologists. The local one here is quite simply besieged.

"The number of cases of allergy is on the increase, but there has not been the necessary increase of immunologists to be able to cope with that."

After finally receiving advice, Ronnie has to keep himself covered up, and avoids gardens at certain times of year.

He has been prescribed a portable adrenaline injector.

It is possible to treat the condition by taking regular injections of tiny amounts of insect venom, which helps gradually to build up resistance.

However, Ronnie has been unable take advantage of this technique, because it would mean having to travel to Glasgow on a regular basis.



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