Aussie tourist's 'scary' allergic reaction on Bali beach: 'Screaming in pain'

An Australian woman has issued a heartfelt thank you to those who helped save her life after she suffered a “very scary” allergic reaction on a beach in Bali.

Clea Ward, from the Sunshine Coast, was celebrating her brother’s 21st birthday with her family in late September when she suddenly began vomiting as her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

Just moments earlier, the 23-year-old — who has a severe peanut allergy — had stopped for an ice cream before making her way to Kuta beach.

“Within a couple of short minutes I felt the back of my throat tingling and my mouth got super itchy,” she told Yahoo News Australia, adding that staff had assured her the flavour she chose did not contain peanuts.

Clea with a swollen face holding a baby sea turtle in Bali and in the back of the ambulance with a lifesaver.
Clea was rushed to hospital by lifesavers after going into anaphylactic shock while releasing baby turtles in Bali. Source: Supplied

“I took some antihistamines and I thought it settled so we went for a walk on the beach to release baby sea turtles.”

However, Ms Ward soon realised her allergic reaction was unlike any other she had experienced before.

After sitting down at a beach bar with friends and family, the 23-year-old's vision began to blur and she felt light-headed.

“One of our friends tried standing me up and I just fell onto the sand and started vomiting,” she recalled.

“It felt like I was in and out of it and my eyes kept rolling to the back of my head. I couldn’t really process what was happening.

“Usually the first symptom I get when I have an allergic reaction is hives and swelling of my tongue and lips, which I didn’t have.”

Confused by the unusual symptoms, the young woman’s family thought she might be suffering from sunstroke or the infamous ‘Bali belly’ and began splashing her with cool water.

Tourists walk at a beach in Kuta, Bali. Source: EPA via AAP
Ms Ward said she had just sat down at a bar on Kuta beach when her eyes suddenly started to roll into the back of her head. Source: EPA via AAP

Lifesavers rush woman to medical centre

A local woman working at the beach was quick to point the worried family in the direction of the Balawista Badung surf lifesaving crew’s tower nearby.

Although she carries two EpiPens with her at all times, Ms Ward said the “entirely different” reaction made her family question if it was the right move, with lifesavers telling them not to as there was a doctor just down the road.

“They had their own ambulance at the tower so they loaded me onto a spinal board and into the ambulance to take me to hospital,” she said.

“An Aussie who was sitting next to our group helped out, I remember looking up at him and thinking who’s this stranger helping me.

“I was put in the ambulance still vomiting everywhere.”

Clea with Dr Dewa Wijaya from the medical centre
The 23-year-old has publicly thanked the staff at Code Blue Medical Centre, including Dr Dewa Wijaya, for helping save her life. Source: Supplied

Aussie woman praises medical staff

Ms Ward was rushed to Code Blue Medical Centre — coincidentally located across the street from her resort — where she says she received “incredible” treatment from the “quick” and “comforting” team.

“My throat was burning and stinging and I remember grabbing one of the nurse’s hands and begging her to make it go away,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

While being “flushed” with medications, the 23-year-old recalled “screaming in pain”, but said after a while she began to feel her symptoms subside.

“It was super scary for my family watching me like that, but the staff were so friendly and were trying to comfort all of us,” she said.

Grateful for the care she received, Ms Ward posted about the incident on a Facebook page dedicated to Aussie travellers visiting Bali last week.

“I wanted to share this as it could help someone else,” she said.

“I will forever be grateful to those who helped me, and if it wasn’t for them it could have been completely different story.”

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