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The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"In rare cases it can be fatal"
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Paul Tyler MP
"The thrombosis problem has been known for some time"
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Monday, 23 October, 2000, 21:15 GMT
MP calls for long haul flight warnings
Emma Christoffersen
Emma Christoffersen died from deep veined thrombosis
The Newport West MP Paul Flynn has asked deputy prime minister, John Prescott to give guidance to air travellers about the risks from long haul flights after the death of a young woman from Newport..

It is believed that bride-to-be Emma Christoffersen, 28, from Newport, south Wales, died from the so-called "economy class syndrome" after flying 12,000 miles from Australia in a cramped seating position.

Tests showed Ms Christoffersen died from deep-veined thrombosis (DVT) which is suffered by dozens of airline passengers each year.

Her parents Ruth and John Christoffersen have urged long-haul airline operators to give pre-flight warnings of the dangers of DVT to passengers.

Generic plane cabin
Emma Christoffersen had flown 12,000 miles
Ms Christoffersen complained of feeling unwell after returning to Heathrow, London, from a three-week trip to Australia.

She lost consciousness in the arrivals hall and died before reaching hospital.

A post mortem examination revealed the cause of her death was DVT, a pulmonary embolism or blood clot which forms in a vein, usually in the leg, and works its way into the heart or lungs where it causes sudden death.

Mrs Christoffersen, 54, from Underwood, Newport, said: "We were told she died from sitting in the cramped seat of a jumbo jet for such a long time.

"I'd never heard of the condition before but passengers on long flights suffer from reduced circulation and that can cause a blood clot.

'Fit and healthy'

"I don't want other parents to go through what we have endured and that is why I want to give this warning about danger of flying.

"I don't see why the dangers could not be spelled out during the normal safety warnings just before take-off."

Emma's fiance Tim Stuart, 35, said she had been fit and healthy.

I don't want other parents to go through what we have endured

Ruth Christoffersen, victim's mother
"It's not as if she had never been on a plane before - we had been on holiday to the States twice and Barbados on long-haul flights."

Doctors say a simple aspirin tablet taken a few hours before take-off would dramatically cut the number of victims by thinning the blood during long- periods of inactivity in a cramped aircraft seat.

Aspirin advice

The Aviation Health Institute which researches air deaths is sending a five-point plan to the Minister for Aviation aimed at cutting deaths from DVT.

Director Farrol Kahn said that airlines and travel agencies should provide an aspirin with every flight ticket.

He also advised airplane passengers to exercise the lower leg and foot and to get up and walk the aisles occasionally.

Qantas spokeswoman Sally Martin, the airline's General Manager for UK and Ireland, said: "Our sincere sympathies are with Emma's family.

"The safety of our passengers is always of paramount importance and indeed we do refer to the possible effects of flying in our in-flight magazine."

Tim Goodyear of the Air Transport Association said: "There are a few doxen cases every year, perhaps six or seven dozen in recent years.

"Some poeple have called it economy class sydrome. In fact there's an equal incidence of this in all three classes. "

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See also:

11 Feb 99 | Health
Air travel linked to blood clots
09 May 00 | Talking Point
Should we pay more to fly?
23 Oct 00 | C-D
Deep vein thrombosis
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