When two-year-old Fergus McIntosh was a newborn, his uncle’s dog gave him a friendly lick as dogs are wont to do.
The boy from East Calder, Scotland, immediately began experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis including a rash and belabored breathing as his airway closed.
His parents rushed him to the hospital where medics told them he would have died had they arrived just a few minutes later.
Alan McIntosh, Fergus’ father, related the story to Edinburgh Live:
My son Fergus has multiple allergies and on more the one occasion been anaphylactic, which is life-threatening.
We didn’t know he had this condition and found out he was allergic to egg after being licked off my brother’s dog, back in 2019.
His dog had eaten a trace of egg in his dog food, which we now know Fergus is allergic to.
As you can imagine we were horrified.
We rushed down to St John’s Hospital in Livingston, luckily just in time, as he was struggling to breathe.”His windpipes were closing up, and we were told if we had been a few minutes later he wouldn’t be here today.
Fergus is now just two years old and probably been through more than most kids his age.
This has happened on multiple other occasions with different foods.
Fergus now has two epinephrine auto-injectors with him at all times in case of inadvertent exposure to his allergens.
The family has taken on a mission to drive awareness of the dangers of food allergies and will be raising money for the Natasha’s Allergy Research Foundation (NARF)
The foundation is named for Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the 15-year-old girl who died on a flight from London in 2016 after consuming a sandwich that contained unlabeled sesame.
Natasha’s parents were instrumental in passing the UK Food Information Amendment, also known as Natasha’s Law, which will require food establishments to provide full ingredient lists and allergen labeling on foods prepackaged for direct sale. Natasha’s law takes effect this Friday, October 1, 2021.
Fergus’ mother Freya will be walking a 16-mile trail on Saturday to raise money for the foundation. You can donate to the cause at the family’s JustGiving page.
We are thankful Fergus survived his ordeal and we send our best wishes to him and his family.
We are also thankful for the efforts of Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse in the name of their daughter. With the enactment of Natasha’s Law, they have made real progress toward safeguarding the allergic community and will no doubt prevent many needless deaths. We remember Natasha and keep her in our thoughts.
Fergus’ run-in with anaphylaxis in his first days illustrates the dangers of inadvertent allergen contact from pets. Just like human kisses, pets that have consumed an allergen can transfer that allergen hours later via licks, their paws, or their coats, resulting in reactions.
Be proactive and understand what a pet has been fed before engaging with it or letting it near your allergic child.