Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heavy Heart - Food Allergy Death

On Monday in Chesterfield, VA, a 7 year old girl named Ammaria Johnson died of cardiac arrest due to a peanut allergy reaction.

Seven years old.

I can't even begin to imagine.

Schools need to take food allergies seriously.

Schools need to be prepared to deal with allergic reactions.

School employees, administrators and nurses need to be trained on how to detect a serious reaction, and how to properly handle them.

Children need to have ready access to their medication.

I understand that schools don't want seven year old children walking around with epi-pens.  But, the epi-pens need to be with them at all times.  Perhaps a medical kit that goes everywhere with the child, and is controlled by whichever adult the child is with at the time.  Lifesaving medication should not be stored in an office, locker or anywhere else  away from the child.  When a severe reaction happens, there's no way of knowing how much time you have to stop it.  It could just be seconds.  Taking 1, 2 or 5 minutes to retrieve an epi-pen is unacceptable. 

Benadryl and other antihistamines will NOT stop an anaphylactic reaction. It will NOT save someone's life.  It could possibly mask anaphylactic symptoms and cause you to believe that the reaction isn't as severe as it really is, resulting in wasting precious time.

As parents, we must make sure that schools have all medications that our children need. According to the video, the mom was told by the school nurse that they had all the medication they needed for her child, and refused to take the epipen, albuterol, etc, that the mother brought in to keep stored for Ammaria.

I am not pointing a finger at the mother, but please learn from this mistake.  If the school refuses your child's medication, ask to speak to their supervisor.  Do not let your child be anywhere without their prescribed medication.

The school is claiming that she "got into" peanuts while outside the school, on the school grounds.  

This is why peanuts should not be allowed on school property.  To the people who whine and complain that their child has the right to eat a peanut butter sandwich.  That their child will whither away if they don't get to eat something laden with peanuts during the day.  This story is a wakeup call.  A seven year old child died from accidental exposure to a peanut product.  Is it worth it?  Is it worth risking a child's life?  Which right is more important?  The right to peanut butter sandwiches, or the right to live?


  1. I got the impression from the article (didn't watch the video) that the mother simply had not provided the EpiPen. IMO, the fault lies with the mother, not the school. If I sent Megan to school, knowing full well her allergy to peanuts, without giving the school the EpiPen the school must have to treat her, that's hardly the school's fault. That being said, I know that the allergy sheet I had to fill out for Megan (that her pedi had to also fill out and sign) laid out what to do when very explicitly - and equally explicitly was the fact that I was provide said Epi.

  2. Hit send too soon! Argh. To continue, I'm surprised that this girl's school allergy sheet didn't require something similar. I'm not sure how feasible it is to have all allergic student's medication with them at all times - what if the child lost it? Or another child took it for a prank? It would seem safer to keep it in the nurse's office, where it is (theoretically) safe and secured and available when/if the child needs it.