The Daily Mail and Express have covered the story of a 50-year-old lady with diabetes who died on a flight, and their write-ups exhibit a saddening lack of sensitivity towards the woman and her family.
The woma, who has not been named, died mid-air during a flight to Moscow from a holiday in Turkey.
She experienced a seizure upon entering a severe hypo and is also thought to have been suffering from acute heart failure before she died.
The captain of the flight decided against making an emergency landing and flew directly to Moscow. Flight attendants laid the woman down in the aisle and covered her with a blanket after she passed away.
This is a terribly distressing situation for the woman’s family. But you wouldn’t know that from the tabloid reports of the incident.
The Express’ headline ‘Passengers forced to sit next to CORPSE after woman dies on three-and-a-half-hour flight’ implies it was the other passengers suffering most. The Daily Mail’s headline is no more compassionate: ‘Shocked passengers sit alongside a DEAD BODY after diabetic passenger dies during flight home from holiday in Turkey’.
The Express’ write-up goes on to say how “passengers were left spooked after the woman died”, but this really is quite irrelevant. The misdirected empathy to the passengers is a bizarre angle for the Express journalist to have taken.
Moreover, the Daily Mail demonstrated a poor understanding of hypo treatments in their article, saying that the woman “suffered a diabetic seizure and forgot to take insulin in a carry-on bag”.
Insulin is the last thing you’d use to treat a hypo because it lowers blood sugar further. The correct treatments are either fast-acting glucose, if someone is conscious and able to take it by mouth, or an injection of glucagon, if available.
Few details are known about the woman’s general health and diabetes management, but it is essential for people with type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes to keep a source of glucose on their person during flights.
People are advised to split their diabetes supplies into separate bags in the event of one piece of luggage getting lost, and to carry a list of all medication and a diabetes identity card or wristband.