Airlines face legal claim over DVT

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The Independent Online

Australian lawyers demanded damages on Tuesday from international airlines on behalf of passengers who suffered life-threatening blood clots after long-haul flights.

The passengers – two Australians and a South African – want recompense from British Airways, the Australian airline Qantas, the Dutch carrier KLM and Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority for injuries they say were caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also called"economy class syndrome".

"I feel really angry because it's something that could easily have been prevented," said Naomi Forsyth, a 21-year-old Australian woman, who says she has suffered permanent impairment after a blood clot developed in her leg during a flight from Melbourne to Edinburgh last November.

DVT develops as a result of lack of movement in confined spaces, and can be fatal if a blood clot reaches the heart or the lungs. It became linked to long-haul flights after a series of deaths, including that of Emma Christofferson, a 28-year-old British woman who had taken a 20-hour flight from Australia last October.

The largest Australian and New Zealand airlines – Qantas, Ansett and Air New Zealand – said at the start of this year that they would warn passengers who bought long-haul tickets about the risk of DVT. "For thousands of people, this information came too late for them to take simple precautions," said Paul Henderson of Slater & Gordon, the law firm representing the plaintiffs. He said his firm had been contacted by 2,792 potential claimants.