A Dunedin woman on a long-haul flight to visit her
daughter in Hawaii died from a condition often associated with
deep vein thrombosis.
Gillian Browne, a 65-year-old mother of four, was on a
12-hour Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Los Angeles
last Friday when the tragedy occurred.
Ms Browne's former husband, Brent Browne, said she was going
to visit her youngest daughter, who was holidaying in Hawaii.
Ms Browne's family were heading to Dunedin to prepare for the
arrival of her body, he said.
A date for her funeral had yet to be set.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said the
New Zealand Consulate-General in Los Angeles been in contact
with Ms Browne's family and repatriation of her body was
Ms Browne's City Catering company had been contracted to
operate the Dunedin City Council staff cafeteria and a
catering service for council functions since 1997.
A DCC spokesman said the council's thoughts were with Mrs
Browne's family at this ''sad and distressing time''. Former
councillor Neil Collins said Ms Brown was a delightful woman
and they had became good friends over the years.
She spoke to him about her trip to the United States a few
days before she left, he said.
''She was excited by the trip. She told me she was looking
forward to seeing her granddaughter dance at Disneyland ...
Her death has come as a great shock.''
Sergeant Karla Ortiz, from Los Angeles International Airport
police, said CPR was unsuccessfully performed on Ms Browne
after the plane arrived in Los Angeles last Friday.
A postmortem examination was performed two days later.
Los Angeles County Coroner spokesman Lieutenant David Smith
said Ms Browne died as the result of a pulmonary
thromboembolism, caused by a blood clot entering one of the
main arteries leading into her lungs.
Her body remained with the LA Coroner while her repatriation
back to New Zealand was being organised, he said.
Travel Doctor managing director Wendy Penno said pulmonary
embolisms were often caused by deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
''It's a blood clot that forms somewhere else in the body
that breaks off and then lodges somewhere else - most
commonly the lungs, but sometimes also in the brain.''
Around 1% of travellers had a blood clot before flying.
However, the chances of them developing into a pulmonary
embolism were very low, Ms Penno said.
However, when they did, the chances of dying from a pulmonary
embolism were very high, she said.
The Ministry of Health's most recent statistics showed that
from 2000 to 2010, an average of 16 people a year died from
In advice on Air New Zealand's website, the airline's chief
medical officer Dr Tim Sprott said the elderly, the
overweight, smokers, people who had just had surgery, or were
pregnant or on oral contraceptives and those with heart
conditions, cancer, or who had a family history of blood
clots were most at risk of DVT.
''If you think you may be at risk, however small, we
recommend you consult your doctor before you fly.''
Aspirin was not an effective preventive medication for DVT,
Dr Sprott said.
How to prevent deep vein thrombosis
• Try to get a seat with extra leg room, such as one next to
an emergency exit.
• Drink plenty of water to reduce dehydration.
• Walk around the plane throughout the flight.
• While seated, exercise your calf muscles every half-hour by
flexing and rotating your ankles.
• Sleep only for short periods and don't take sleeping pills
that could keep you motionless in your seat for hours.
• Consider wearing support stockings.
• Avoid wearing tight clothing around your waist.
Source: Ministry of Health
- Additional reporting: Otago Daily Times