In a very tragic story out of Virginia, 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson died after ingesting an allergen at her grade school. On Monday, Ammaria ran to a teacher on the playground crying and saying she "ate something bad." The little girl had a full-blown allergic reaction, complained about her throat, and was rushed to a clinic where she died of cardiac arrest.
This happened in minutes, you guys. Minutes that took a little girl's life because someone was unprepared for a food allergy. While it's unclear what Ammaria ate, the little girl had a severe peanut allergy, so we can assume that is the culprit. But the school should have been ready for an event like this, especially if what Ammaria's mother says is accurate. And if it is, then someone at that school needs to be held responsible for this little girl's death.
Regardless, this is every parent of an allergic kid's worst nightmare.
Laura Pendelton, Ammaria's mother, reported that at the beginning of the school year, she brought her daughter's medication to the school and explained her severe allergy. Included in her meds was not only Benadryl, but Albuterol for asthma and the all-important Epipen for a severe allergic reaction. I have an Epipen myself, and it never leaves my bag, even though my food and allergy issues are much less severe than this little girl's. Clearly, this life-saving medication was exactly what was needed in this situation, yet it was nowhere to be found.
Pendelton says she was told that the school already had everything they needed and to take Ammaria's medications home. You know she wishes she had gone with her first instinct. The school is not commenting on the little girl's death at this point. However, the school guidelines do say they do NOT stock all of the medications necessary, and parents should supply the school with special medications.
Someone messed up, and now a life is lost.
We don't know if the person who sent Ammaria's mother home with her medication didn't understand the severity of food allergies or was just uninformed. Heck, we don't know who it was or if it really happened exactly that way. But we do know that many, many people laugh off food allergies and "hysterical" parents. But for every crazy parent out there who insists their child can't eat anything even when he's perfectly healthy, there are so many more parents who are just trying to keep their kids alive.
No, we didn't have this rash of allergies when we were kids. But we also didn't have as many environmental, chemical, and toxic food problems when we were kids. Things change, in case you haven't noticed, and one big thing that has changed is the number of kids who risk their lives just by going to school.
If the school had been prepared, Ammaria might still be alive. But if parents had been informed and skipped the peanut butter or whatever peanut treat they sent to school with their kid, Ammaria would definitely still be alive.
Be considerate instead of judgmental about kids with allergies. Someone's child's life could depend on it. It's too late for little Ammaria, sadly. But as parents, we should all be working to make sure this does not happen again.
Does your child have a life-threatening allergy?
Image via Dan4th/Flickr