Dear Parents,

Dear Parents and Caregivers of Allergic Children,

Yesterday a sweet 7-year-old first grader died. She had an allergic reaction from eating something with peanut. For some reason the school did not give her Benadryl, and even more strangely “At the beginning of this school year, the mother said she tried to give the clinical aid an Epipen for emergencies, but she was declined and told to keep it at home.”  This tragedy could have been avoided. Please PLEASE If your school, daycare, mother-in-law, etc is not following safe protocol,  is not keeping an Epi-Pen readily available,  THEN it is up to YOU to DO something- ADVOCATE! You may be shy, you may be passive, you may not want to ‘rock the boat’ But you MUST!~If others are not doing everything they can to keep your child safe!  BE a pain in the school administrations ass,  find a new daycare if you have to!!  Call your legislature and support the passing of the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act! Make sure others know about your child’s allergies, how to care for them, what your action plan is!~Remind them- constantly! [I tell anyone who watches my boys- Use epi-pen, call 911, THEN call me!] Dear Lord let this be the last child who needs to die because of not having an Epi-pen available! Be strong, be an advocate, educate those around you- and do it to keep your children safe! Bless us all!

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12 Responses to Dear Parents,

  1. Ed K. January 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    I live in the area in which this unfortunate case happened and was looking for the latest updates when I found this site. A couple of issues come to mind:

    1. Thanks to asinine zero-tolerance drug policies, many school systems around the country will not allow children to carry epi-pens, and due to potential liability teachers do not wish to have responsibility for keeping one handy. It took a $1 million payout after a New Orleans child died from an asthma attack in a school with similar policies about rescue inhalers 20 years ago to begin the process to get school boards to change policies to allow those who potentially needed inhalers to carry them at all times. Now this incident might lead to the same result with epi-pens.

    You advocate freer access to epi-pens. No one in the media accounts has mentioned the role that zero-tolerance drug policies might have played in this tragedy. You should address this issue in your advocacy, as it might explain the claim that the school told the parent to keep the epi-pen at home.

    2. Schools often will close ranks around the responsible adults who failed to supervise or respond to the emergency to protect them. We might never even learn their names. Chesterfield county schools already have a bad reputation…

    3. The child is now reported to have had multiple food allergies—not just peanuts, but also eggs, for example. We still don’t know the details of what she ingested or the circumstances, and again, the school might stonewall on releasing details.

    This tragedy bears monitoring to see the outcome. I predict a big-bucks lawsuit and matching settlement.

    • Multiplefoodallergyhelp~Jenny January 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Dear Ed- Thank you SO much for your response! I think you touch on some very important issues tied into this story, with the zero tolerance etc. But as a friend has pointed out, we can have defibrillators in malls and grocery stores, we should be able to have life saving epi-pens in schools! My sons both have multiple food allergies, and my youngest is severest to egg, peanut, and dairy. Regardless what the cause of Ammaria’s reaction was, the inaction that followed is the problem. I would happily sign a release to allow anyone trained to administer the epi-pen freeing the teachers of liability- if that was the issue! Today, 1 in 13 kids are being diagnosed with food allergies- it would be reckless if teachers are not receiving up to date instruction on Epi-Pen use and protocol! This story has no winners, everyone involved will carry a burden of grief over this poor child’s death. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts!~ Sincerely, Jenny

  2. Donica January 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Ed,

    Your point about zero-tolerance drug policy is an interesting one. I don’t know if that came into play here, but if it did, the school chose zero-tolerance over Chesterfield’s food allergy guidelines. My child with peanut allergy was never denied the right to keep her epipens at school when she attended Chesterfield County Public Schools from 2005 until we relocated in 2008. I’ve since heard that CCPS has new food allergy guidelines, but I’ve also heard that food allergy is handled differently from school to school there, unfortunately.

    I am sad for this family and angry that their child, Ammaria, was not given the same right that my child has had in every school she has ever attended, in Chesterfield and in Loudoun County, VA, where we now live.

    Ammaria seems to have been failed more than once by the school. I would very much like to know what went so very wrong, and why.

  3. AiXeLsyD13 January 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    There ought to be an epi-pen in the nurse’s station, or locked in teachers’ desks. I can almost see not letting a kid carry one… but then again, in situations like this a few seconds may make all the difference.

    • Multiplefoodallergyhelp~Jenny January 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      Those were some of things I addressed with our school when Caleb started!~I did not like him riding the bus without an Epi-pen, nor being in the classroom while the Epi-pens were locked in the nurses office filing cabinet!~ By the time people are called, keys found, running to where child is, or worse sitting on bus waiting for an ambulance; I was not comfortable with those scenarios!~ Thankfully our school’s administration are so willing to include parents in the discussion, and to work to find a good solution for everyone! You can see what we came up with on this post: http://multiplefoodallergyhelp.com/2011/10/12/how-our-school-is-handling-food-allergies/

      • AiXeLsyD13 January 5, 2012 at 8:19 am #

        It’s very cool that you had such a responsive team helping you keep your kid safe! I’m sure none of it was a large inconvenience. Hopefully others learn by example.

  4. Neko January 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I’ve been following this story as best I can. I was recently diagnosed with a food allergy and prescribed and epi-pen. I really, really want to know what happened to cause this poor little girl to be stranded at school in the middle of a fatal allergic reaction without an epi-pen available. Something obviously went horribly wrong.
    If there was a problem with the epi-pen, if they didn’t have the proper paperwork or something, why wasn’t it resolved? If the school knew she had a potential to have a fatal allergic reaction on school grounds, why didn’t they insist on having an epi-pen at school to help her?
    I’ve seen some really cruel responses from people saying Ammaria’s parents and even Ammaria herself (!!!) bear responsibility for her death. But it just baffles me that schools wouldn’t have epi-pens on hand.Why would a school risk a child dying because they couldn’t get the right medication quickly enough? A child with a previously uknown allergy could also have a fatal reaction at school! Of course there wouldn’t be an epi-pen available in that case, since no one could know it was needed beforehand.

    • Multiplefoodallergyhelp~Jenny January 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      If you look on our Facebook page there are a few links to articles and others thoughts on how this happened. A big problem is that schools don’t have emergency Epi-pens available in them. This link will bring you to Jenny Kales web page, http://nut-freemom.blogspot.com/2012/01/food-allergy-deaths-are-tragic-and.html?spref=fb and she includes a link to a sample letter and your local senators to contact them and try to get the Emergency School Epinephrine bill passed. A lot went wrong in this little girl’s case, and the entire food allergy community are all questioning why and how. It breaks my heart, for her family, and all the other people that are being put at risk by either reckless or uneducated care-givers. Her death was preventable and all it took was having an epi-pen available and someone there to administer it. Best to you, Jenny

      • Neko January 8, 2012 at 1:59 am #

        Thank you for the information, Jenny. It would help to be able to do something concrete. I feel so sorry for Ammaria’s family. It’s awful that they lost their daughter to something so preventable. When I researched my allergy, I was appalled to read parent’s descriptions of their children’s allergic reactions. I had no idea food allergies were so common or so potentially severe in children. It made my experience seem quite trivial in comparison, even though I am potentially capable of having a fatal anaphylactic reaction just like Ammaria.

  5. Ed K. January 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    New details about this tragedy:

    One news site claims the girl ate a peanut on another student’s dare, starting the chain of events. Where was the supervision?

    She reportedly still was in the hives stage upon arrival at the nurse’s office. Benadryl might still have helped buy a little time if given immediately at this stage, I would surmise, but her condition deteriorated rapidly. In any event, the school did not give Benadryl, but instead jerked around and kept trying to call the mother instead of summoning emergency responders. (The same happened in the New Orleans case over asthma inhalers mentioned in my previous post.)

    What limited response the school has given and other comments seem to indicate that the mother’s offered epi-pen was refused for lack of doctor’s written instructions to include in the almighty response plan. In other words, the intent here is to try to blame the mother for not furnishing documentation on how to use the pen!

    There are two major problems with this: (1) This, like all acute food allergies, was a potential life-threatening situation with no time to refer to the precious plan during crunch time. (2) The prescription for the pen, on the pen container, IS a doctor’s written instruction for use, since it is an emergency item and not like normal medication. Besides, using an epi-pen is not brain surgery. I was taught its use when I worked as a corrections officer.

    But watch—the school will use its fiddly bureaucracy to “justify” its poor response to the girl’s trouble. Mom didn’t meet all the bureaucratic requirements to the letter, the school seems to be hinting, so Ammaria’s death isn’t their fault. I find this stonewalling sickening.

  6. river28 April 23, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Disgusting. As a teacher and a mother of an anaphylactic child, this makes my blood boil. I thank god that I live in Australia and a town where its common practice for all education staff in both childcare, kindergarten and schools to be trained as part of our first aid training and that my sons picture is plastered on the wall at childcare to alert everyone. I am also grateful that I have not one but two epi pens with him everywhere he goes. That poor family, along with others who have been through the same experience.

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