A top Melbourne private school has been blamed for the peanut allergy death of a 13 year old student under their care.
In the five years following this event, I believe many schools in Victoria have increased their vigilance and approach to managing food allergies in school, however there is still a general lack of awareness and attitude that seems to permeate society in general.
What do you think about your school’s approach to allergies?
In the news today – information about the inquest into Nathan Francis’ death whilst under the care of his school. See the article HERE.
In the past I found some people think parents of children with allergies over-react…. I can’t even begin to imagine how Nathan’s parents feel, having entrusted the safety of their son to others, only to be let down in the most unimaginable way. But it makes me recall instances where people scoffed at our approach to managing Isabella’s allergies.
I hope the inquest helps Nathan’s family achieve some closure.
I send a prayer to Nathan and his family, and to other families of children with food allergies. And I live in the hope that allergy awareness has increased to the level that health professionals; education and community organisations are educated and prepared to extend the same level of attention in managing allergies as is provided in the family home.
To all the kids (and adults) out there with allergies – may your challenge be treated seriously by your teachers; your friends; your community; and your restaurateurs, so you can live your life to your full potential, without fear.
Another account of lack of vigilence leading to the death of a food allergy sufferer.
A 13 year old school boy attending cadet camp was given army rations containing peanuts (satay for goodness sake!!) After CPR and 4 Epi-pens, he was pronounced dead on arrival at the Royal Childrens Hospital. Full story here.
And people think we are over-protective when we closely manage our children’s food.
I found a terrific book at the local library – “The Parent’s Guide to Food Allergies” written by Marianne S. Barber with Maryanne Bartoszek Scott MD & Elinor Greenberg PhD. (618.92BAR)
It was first published in 2001 – just a little too late to help when Bella was diagnosed with food allergies. Reading it in hindsight, I realise what a great resource it would have been. I searched in vein for a book just like this. I found VERY heavy medical texts, and fluffy/new age/self-help/naturopathy type books that refer to intolerances as “allergies” and offered very inappropriate advice. (Don’t get me wrong – I think Naturopathy is great and helps with all manner of ailments.)
This is the book I really wanted!
It is very comprehensive and practical in its approach and advice. My only issue is that it is written in North America so it doesn’t reference local organisations and systems.
The introduction explains the inspiration for the book, the authors own experience with their child’s first and extremely scary discovery of food allergies.
If you go to Amazon you can see the index and first couple of pages.
In terms of a reference book – this one covers off all the important areas, provides clarity and serves as a valuable resource to parent’s of food allergic children.
Very broadly, the book covers:
- an overview of food allergies and explains the differences between intolerances and true allergic reactions;
- allergy testing;
- food challenges
- compensating for food that cannot be eaten
- explanation of anaphylaxis
- treatment of anaphylaxis
- action plans
- details of the typical food allergies – milk; egg; wheat; peanut; tree nuts and seeds; soybean; fish & shellfish; unusual allergies;
- hidden allergies
- reading labels
- shopping at the deli; grocer; butcher; ice-cream shop
- eating at restaurants
- dealing with health care providers (This is very North American centric)
- a recipe section
- a raft of emotional issues
- dealing with holidays and special occasions
- going to school
- asthma and environmental allergies
I highly recommend this to other parents of children with food allergies.
I am horrified and furious.
I was cruising the web and happened across some blogs/bloggers that were critical of schools banning peanut products. Some of the comments were along the lines of: Parents were over reacting; If I found out someone had peanut allergy I’d stuff peanuts in the noses and ears and mouths; I used to be able to eat peanut butter at school – what’s the big deal; and it goes on.
I took my child out of a kinder because of a poor teacher. This teacher was mental unstable and ended up being removed… however in the interim she victimised the other food allergic kids that chose to stay. Amongst her atrocities, this teacher allowed allergy foods in the class!! A parent “forgot” and brought a birthday cake that contained nuts and egg. Whoops. Oh well don’t worry, we will make sure the allergy kids are sent to the corner and punished for their sins – let them watch the rest of the class eat cake and have a party. After all they are 4 years old and they understand they are bad and should have to miss out. And since you went to the effort of baking – and forgot… well your effort is more valuable than a child’s life.
So she sat the allergy kids (and we are talking about 4 year olds here) away from the general group, excluded and distanced, and then allowed the other children to taunt, discriminate and victimise these kids. Can you imagine how they felt? (If not check this out and it might give you a clue.) And why? Because they have a life threatening immunological response to certain proteins. Can they change it? No. Can their parents change it? No. Can the medicos change it? No.
So if you don’t know or understand the facts and the outcomes, I kindly ask you to pull your #$% head in. These kids have enough to deal with, without being accused of having a make believe affliction and then being taunted in the school yard – OR WORSE… being exposed to their allergens by arrogant and ignorant parents or fellow students. Yes I’m angry – and I should probably leave this for a day and moderate it. But f%$# it – its my blog and I’ll rant if I want to!!
The general misunderstanding about allergies in the community shows how important education of the general public is in the fight to keep these children alive.
Anyone reading this who thinks I am over-reacting, please go and hear Sabrina’s story and learn what reality is for some children. If education and public awareness can save one child’s life, then it’s worth the effort.
Now I feel moderately better.