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5 Things You Can Do To Save a Life During An Allergic Reaction


On Monday, January 2, the unthinkable happened.

Ammaria Johnson, a seven-year-old first grader at Hopkins Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Virginia, died at school after suffering an allergic reaction to a peanut product. The school was instructed to give Ammaria Benadryl in case of an emergency - a second-best backup plan since the school refused to keep the girl’s EpiPen in the nurse’s office, despite her mother’s request.

Instead of calling 911 or at least administering the Benadryl, Ammaria’s parents received a call at around 2:30 p.m. on Monday informing them that their daughter’s tongue was swelling and someone needed to pick her up. Outraged, they demanded that the school call 911, but it was too late. By the time the EMS crew arrived, the girl was in cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at CJW Medical Center.

Ammaria’s situation was tragic, preventable, and unfortunately, not all that uncommon. Fifteen-year-old Jharell Dillard of Lawrenceville, Georgia died this past August after eating a cookie that apparently contained peanuts. Twenty-year-old Tyler Davis, a junior at Kennesaw State University, died a week later after eating in the campus commons. Last month, six-year-old Megann Ayotte Lefort passed away in Montreal under the watch of the daycare staff at her elementary school.

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, it is estimated that food allergies cause about 150 to 200 fatalities each year. Of these fatalities, most (about 50-62%) are caused by peanuts. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, while young children are more commonly affected by food allergies, teenagers and young adults like Jharell and Tyler are at the highest risk of a fatal anaphylactic episode. Life-threatening food allergies are on the rise and they are a threat to nearly 8% of children today.

Clearly, contrary to the Hopkins Elementary School’s beliefs, food allergies are something to be taken seriously. Make it your mission to prevent unnecessary tragedies due to food allergies. Know what to do in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction.

5 simple things you can do to save a life: (obtained from the Mayo Clinic)

1. Recognize the symptoms of anaphylactic shock. These could include pale, cool and clammy skin, weak and rapid pulse, trouble breathing, confusion, loss of consciousness, skin reactions such as hives, swollen tongue, nausea or vomiting.
2. Administer medications to treat an allergy attack, such as an epinephrine auto-injector or antihistamines, if the person has them.
3. Call 911 immediately. Do not “wait it out” to see if symptoms improve. Even if symptoms start to resolve, a second reaction, called a biphasic reaction, could occur up to four hours after the initial symptoms and it is important to seek medical attention.
4. Check the person’s pulse and breathing and perform CPR if necessary.
5. Spread the word. If you have a food allergy, wear a medical ID bracelet to alert others in case of an emergency. Teach friends, family and coworkers what to do in the event of an allergic reaction. If your child has a severe food allergy, talk to their school. Stress the importance of following your child’s personalized emergency action plan.

Lauren's Hope provides a large selection of medical ID bracelets and necklaces which can be engraved with critical medical information. If your child has a life threatening food or drug allergy it is important that they wear a medical ID bracelet engraved with their name, food or drug allergy, instructions regarding treatment or medications and an emergency contact number. You can view our medical ID bracelets at www.laurenshope.com

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I can't figure out why ALL schools, daycares, and restaurants aren't REQUIRED to keep an epi pen. Such a simple way to save a life.
Posted @ Friday, January 06, 2012 9:16 AM by Shelly Holland
This absolutely freaked me out as my daughter also has an allergy to peanuts and other nuts...garlic. The schools refuse to let her carry the Benadryl and the Epi-pen in her purse. She is in Middle School and knows how to use both when they are needed. 
Every teacher should have liquid Benadryl and an Epi-pen in their room IF they have knowledge that one or more of their students has a severe food or environmental allergies. If this had been so...this little girl would be alive today more then likely...or at least every possible action would have been taken to save her life. I still don't understand why the school didn't call 911 immediately!! This was senseless. 
I have given my daughter benadryl capsules to carry in her purse...I don't care if the school doesn't agree...this is HER life we are talking about. She watched this story and it really freaked her out as her Benadryl and Epi-pen must be kept in the nurses office...which I think is stupid as it can be seconds not minutes that things can get out of control and the nurses office is on the bottom floor of the school. She should be carrying it!!
Posted @ Friday, January 06, 2012 9:35 AM by Amy L Harden
Shelly, we completely agree! Check out the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act here: http://bit.ly/AerRkS. The FAAN is working to pass this legislation which would help get emergency EpiPens into schools.
Posted @ Friday, January 06, 2012 10:26 AM by Emily
Amy, it is so scary knowing how quickly things like this can happen. I agree that if your daughter is not allowed to carry her own EpiPen, one should at least be kept in the classroom or in a designated place on each floor in case of emergency - you don't have time to run up and down flights of stairs when it only takes moments for an allergic reaction to progress.
Posted @ Friday, January 06, 2012 10:32 AM by Emily
My daughter Ashely keeps her Epipen in the nurse's office. One day I got a call from the nurse that Ashely had been exposed to peanuts but she didn't ingest them,someone just touched her.The nurse was afraid to administer the Epipen Jr to Ashely. Luckily, I was driving right past the school that very minute. When I got there, her eyeball had a blister in it the size of an eraser. I threw my daughter in the car and drove to the ER with her doctor on the phone. Luckily, Ashely made it through. I have since explained again to her School that it doesn't take ingestion to kill my daughter and how important it is to follow her action plan.I still do not trust them.I cried for the mother and little girl in Virginia,even posted it on Facebook. I pray for all of us Allergy mothers and children every day.
Posted @ Wednesday, February 01, 2012 9:59 PM by Carla Butler
Carla, Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It's terrifying to imagine a situation where you think your child is not safe at school. Greater awareness needs to be brought to ALL school officials regarding food allergies and the proper treatment. I'm relieved to hear that you were in the right place at the right time and were able to make sure that your daughter received prompt medical attention.
Posted @ Monday, February 06, 2012 11:10 AM by Jenna White
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