I’ve explained in a previous post that I have a severe allergy to tree nuts. My husband has a milder allergy to tree nuts as well. Thus, we are being very careful with our little daughter. Genetics being what they are, I presume that there’s a chance she may develop the same allergy. I mean to find a “nut-free” kindergarten for her.
In light of that, it’s stories like this one which strike a chill into my heart. The Baptist family’s four year old son Alex was attending a supposedly “nut-free” kindergarten. It appears that perhaps some nuts made their way into the kinder; at any rate, Alex seems to have suffered a severe anaphylactic shock and died. One staff member accidentally stabbed herself in the finger with the Epipen (adrenalin injection), the other couldn’t get the lid off the spare Epipen. Epipens save the lives of those who suffer from anaphylaxis.
The coroner was not prepared to find that Alex’s death was as a result of anaphylaxis. Nor was she prepared to find that the kindergarten staff had been wanting, or that a parent might have brought a peanut butter sandwich to the kindergarten for her toddler (despite “evasive” evidence from the parent).
I have some sympathy for the kindergarten staff. If they have not been trained in the administration of Epipens, and were thrown into a crisis situation, then it’s understandable that they would panic, and that accidents will occur. I do not think that they should be personally blamed, but I do think that it should be recognised that kindergarten and school staff require training in the administration of Epipens, and also training as to how to respond when an anaphylactic reaction is suffered by a child.
On the other hand, my heart aches for the Baptists. I can understand how they must feel furious and devastated. Your child is so precious, and to lose your son in such a way… They must wonder what would have happened if the Epipens had been administered properly.
I think it’s also a matter of educating the broader community. It appears that there was some evidence that another person brought a peanut butter sandwich to the kindergarten, although the coroner was not prepared to conclude that this in fact occurred. Parents need to be told that they should not bring in food with allergens if there is a child with an allergy in the class. It’s not a matter of a child not liking peanuts, or breaking out in a rash – it’s a matter of life and death. Again, I don’t feel that the person who may have brought peanut butter into the kindergarten should be singled out – there’s a lot of ignorance out there.
As I have said in my earlier post, I think that there is a general lack of understanding in the community as to the severity of some allergies – it’s not just “being picky” or being a hypochondriac. I can die if I eat the wrong thing and don’t administer my Epipen in time. Of course, the question I always get asked is: “Have you had to do it before yourself?” The answer is, “Yes.” When people say, “How could you bear to do it?” I say, “Better than dying.”
So, to the Baptists – I am so so sorry about the loss of their son, and I wish them all the best in their campaign to raise awareness of this issue.