Not only do stories like the following break my heart, they absolutely terrify me. I spend a lot of time speaking with parents of kids with and without severe allergies, trying to bridge the gap of education between us. Parents who don't have an allergic child often really can't seem to comprehend that death is a real threat to some people. People feel we're inconveniencing them because our kids are the reason lunches are a challenge to pack; they think we're overprotective because we've got that allergy paranoia.
Natalie Giorgi, a 13-year old California girl, had life-threatening allergies, and was a diligent, careful kid. She read labels, she turned down foods that she wasn't sure about, her entire family was well-educated in how to protect her. She had everything going for her, all the odds in her favour and you know what? She died because she took a small bite of a rice cereal treat that had peanuts in it.
The very moment the treat touched her tongue, she spat it out, knowing that it contained a deadly allergen. Moments later, despite feeling fine at first, she started vomiting. Her parents administered Benadryl and three EpiPens—devices meant to slow or stop anaphylactic allergic reactions—and still, Natalie died. Her throat swelled and closed, and her young life was extinguished because of such a small exposure to peanuts. I can't even wrap my head around this. I can't even imagine this happening to my sweet little nut-allergic son.
Now Georgi's parents are speaking out, trying to educate everyone on the very real threat allergens have on peoples' lives, and to "convince skeptical parents that food allergies in children is [sic] very real." Why do we have to "convince" people? The fact that my son carries an EpiPen is proof enough that peanuts can kill him; what more do parents need to understand this?
I urge you to listen to Health Canada and be a compassionate person. Open a dialogue about allergies, even if you don't have to deal with them in your house. Find out which foods your school has had to ban to save the life of a student, and pack appropriate lunches this year. Don't let Natalie Georgi's death be in vain.
Did you know that as many as 1.2 million Canadians may be affected by allergies? And many of those reactions are severe, life-threatening ones. Ractions can range from mild skin irritations to anaphylaxis and even death; food allergies are nothing to mess with. If an anaphylactic child is exposed to an allergen, death is a real risk.
In light of the severity of such allergies, Health Canada released a statement today reminding parents to be mindful when packing lunches for kids heading back to school.
The most common allergens are:
• tree nuts
• sesame seeds
• seafood (including fish, crustaceans, and shellfish)
• sulphites, and
Now, not all those have to be avoided, of course, but most schools are nut-free at the very least so be sure to inquire about the bans that are in place in your school.
And please remember that we allergy parents really appreciate the community's effort to save our kids' lives. We really, really do.
Blue Bear Aware is a Canadian retailer of allergy accessories. From auto-injector carriers to t-shirts, and everything in between, owner Heather McGrath aims to support other parents who, like her, have children with life-threatening allergies.
Allergy accessories are the perfect way for kids to inform the world of their restrictions, and also start taking on some responsibilty of their own, by carrying their own autoinjectors. The selection at Blue Bear Aware is fantastic, and the products are cool, too.
We're giving away a Blue Bear Allergy Aware short sleeve t-shirt of the winner’s choice (all Ts have the special Blue Bear Allergy Alert symbol on the back for adults to see and a hip graphic on the front to make kid’s feel cool), a pack of five allergy alert stickers labels (waterproof and weatherproof, they are perfect for water bottles, lunch kits, classroom doors and more), a Kyle Dine “Food Allergies Rock” CD, Blue Bear’s hottest seller — Two packs of Zipzicles, the allergy free frozen treat packs, a set of five play-date card, and a Blue Bear Aware allergy waterproof wristband all valued at $75!
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me which product you love most from the Blue Bear Aware site. You have until Saturday, August 24, 2013 to enter. You must be a YMC member and please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win.
Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a YummyMummyClub.ca member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until Saturday, August 24, 2013. Contest open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Winners will be picked using www.random.org. See full contest rules.