By now you’ve probably read the Allergic Living article about two families that have filed lawsuits after losing their sons to anaphylaxis. The details are horrific, as they always are when a child is taken by allergic reactions.
In one case, a boy of 16 from Minnesota died from an anaphylactic reaction when it turned out the pancake he was eating at a restaurant was contaminated with milk. The family did not have his auto-injectors on-hand and had to rush him home, but by then it was too late.
In the other, an 11 year old Alabama boy died from a severe reaction to a supermarket cookie. Though an employee assured the family that the cookie contained no tree nuts, it did in fact contain walnuts. His mother administered Benadryl once the symptoms presented themselves and at some point afterward administered his auto-injector, but despite being airlifted to the hospital he could not be resuscitated.
These deaths are every parent’s nightmare, especially for those of us who are part of the community of kids with food allergies. But if there is anything to be redeemed from these tragedies, it is what can be learned to prevent them from happening to other children.
With no disrespect or judgement meant for the grieving parents of these boys, and knowing nothing more about the circumstances that lead to their reactions, let’s remind ourselves of what we can do to prevent occurrences similar to these in the future.
Once again, a child’s death caused by anaphylaxis is receiving attention in the media, this time in the UK. The loss is yet another in a long line of horrific, preventable tragedies, but there are lessons to be learned from the details of the child’s exposure and the subsequent attempts at first aid.
Connor Donaldson, a 12 year-old boy from Greater Manchester with severe asthma and a severe peanut allergy, died October 19, 2013 after ingesting a few bites of curry the family had taken out from a nearby restaurant.
His mother had discussed the allergy with a staff member of the restaurant over the phone prior to ordering. She was assured that their dishes would contain no peanuts.
A year and a half ago, Jack Irvine, a 15 year old with a severe tree nut allergy attending a go-karting camp in Melbourne, Australia, bit into an unwrapped cookie containing macadamia nuts. He died six days later due to complications of anaphylaxis.
During inquest proceedings currently underway, it was disclosed that the family filed standard forms notifying the camp administration of the boy’s allergies. Due to a staff shortage the day of the incident, the camp ordered lunch from a sandwich chain which presumably supplied the cookies.
Fiona Ellis, the counsel for the Victorian Karting Association, issued a formal apology to the family. “The Victorian Karting Association expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Jack Irvine,” Ellis told the Victorian Coroners Court.
Ellis went on to explain that the camp’s administrators did not have proper processes in place for dealing with allergic reactions or adequate first aid plans.
As we approach the season when families traditionally enroll their children for summer camp activities, we at SnackSafely.com would like to highlight some of the special considerations arising from this tragedy:
Are you a teacher responsible for a child with severe allergies? Make these New Year’s resolutions, share them with your colleagues, and have a safe and inclusive New Year!
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Allergic Living has posted an excellent article in response to the tragic death of Natalie Giorgi, the 13 year old girl who suffered a fatal bout of anaphylaxis after biting into a treat made with peanut butter.
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Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) has published an update to their emergency action plan template entitled: “Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan”. The template is used by parents to provide a plan of action and authorize others to administer medications should their child suffer an allergic reaction.
As a parent of a child with food allergies, you know that back-to-school means replacing those epinephrine auto-injectors with a fresh set, an expensive proposition especially if you don’t have prescription coverage.
This is an update to our previous story regarding the tragic death of 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi, who accidentally ingested a treat containing peanut butter and suffered a fatal bout of anaphylaxis. We publish this to provide details of the epinephrine administration as requested by many of our readers.
Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical firm, announced today that their Auvi-Q voice guided epinephrine auto-injector is now available from retail pharmacies in the US with a prescription.
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