More than 1,200 people have signed a petition calling for a medical device which can stop choking to be made widely available in schools in the wake of the tragic death of two-year-old Sadie Salt.
The toddler sadly died after choking on a piece of sausage she was eating at her nursery in Radlett, Hertfordshire in November.
Craig Grant, a father-of-three from Borehamwood, started a call for LifeVac devices to be rolled out more widely in the UK after hearing of Sadie’s death. The petition has been signed and shared by Sadie’s mother, Zoe.
The device, described as an “airway clearance device”, is only allowed to be used in certain settings, which does not include schools and nurseries. The firm claims it has saved the lives of 34 children to date.
But the MHRA, which regulates medical devices, says there is not “sufficient clinical data” for the devices to be used by non-healthcare professionals or by the general public.
Mr Grant, whose child attends a sister nursery to the one attended by Sadie, said: “After Sadie passed away I got in touch with the nursery to see if they’d consider buying one of these. They did but we were told later that they had to send it back because they were not approved.”
He added: “Deaths could be avoided, I absolutely believe it. I don’t understand why these devices can’t be used.”
Matt Branagan from LifeVac told Jewish News: “It’s really frustrating. When we heard about Sadie’s death, we were contacted by lots of schools who wanted to put this device in their schools.
“Children’s lives could be saved if this device were available. We’ve saved 34 children’s lives now from three-months to 14-years-old.”
He said the company had tried to work with the MHRA to get the device approved for general use but since 2017 had not been successful.
A spokesperson for the MHRA said the device’s use in limited settings was to enable clinical data to be gathered.
“Just as our regulatory approach to airway clearance devices was reached with due consideration to the guidance and opinion of the UK clinical community, any changes to this approach would also be made with those same due considerations,” said a spokeswoman.
“Hence, the MHRA is in the ongoing process of consulting relevant experts regarding current clinical data and literature supporting the use of these devices, which in turn shall inform what changes, if any, are warranted regarding the current regulatory approach adopted concerning these devices.
A study on mannequins at the University of Warwick published this month found evidence “that individuals using the LifeVac were more successful in removing a simulated foreign body airway obstruction than individuals using abdominal thrusts.”
However, it added: “A key issue with these devices is that their use may distract the rescuer from other techniques, such as back slaps, abdominal thrusts and chest thrusts.”
The company says its device should only be used when all other resources have failed in an emergency.
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