British woman's death on SIA flight puts fresh spotlight on dangers of DVT


The death of a young British woman from a blood clot on board a Singapore Airlines flight last month has increased the spotlight on the dangers of "economy class syndrome".

Twenty-eight-year-old Alayne Wake died on the flight to London where she was going to spend Christmas with her family, the airline said.

Wake collapsed near the end of the 14-hour journey from Singapore when she got up to go to the toilet.

Despite the efforts of a doctor, nurse and paramedic who were fellow passengers, Wake from Sunderland in northern England never regained consciousness.

"She actually died on board," an SIA spokesman said.

"Oxygen was administered and the aircraft defibrilation equipment and medical kit were used but she could not be revived."

The potentially fatal ailment, known as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), is linked to a slowing of blood circulation in the legs while sitting for prolonged periods.

Economy class syndrome is a misnomer as DVT can also affect business and first class fliers.

Wake had been working in Singapore as a customer services manager for Paris-based smart card maker Oberthur Card Systems for 18 months after postings in France and Britain, a company spokesman said.

"I hope that people will now realise that economy class syndrome hits not only old people," her father, Kevin Wake, said.

The SIA spokesman said the airline alerted passengers to the dangers of DVT in various ways, including an in-flight video detailing simple exercises and periodic announcements urging people to move around the cabin.

He could not say exactly how many incidents the carrier had seen but noted Wake's case was the first time someone had died of DVT while in the air.

Britain's Department of Health has issued guidelines encouraging passengers to drink plenty of water and exercise while seated to increase blood flow to the lower legs.