"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DO something

You're shocked and saddened by the news of the little girl who died this week after suffering an allergic reaction at her school. You want to DO something about it.

Here's what I did:

The Honorable **********
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator *******:

I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor S. 1884, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.  As you are probably aware, a 7-year old Chesterfield, Virginia resident died this week after suffering an allergic reaction at her school. She did not have an Epi-Pen prescribed to her at school and so, according to county policy, no medication was administered to this child. Her reaction escalated until she was in cardiac arrest and, ultimately, lost her life.

I am the parent of a child with severe food allergies. Evan is four and a half years old and will be entering Kindergarten in the *********** County Public School system in the fall. He has had food allergies since infancy, although we are among the lucky ones; he has outgrown all of his allergies (there were 13 at initial diagnosis) except for Milk and Peanuts. I am confident in my child’s safety at school because he does have an Epi-Pen prescribed in his name and I will be vigilant to ensure that it is always up-to-date and accessible to him.

But the safety of other children is not so sure. Food allergies can develop over time. Children can experience their first allergic reaction to a previously “safe” food well into their school years. Similarly, a child who has a known “mild” allergy or sensitivity to a food can experience increasingly severe reactions over time and exposures to the food. There is just so much to learn about food allergies and the growing population of children who have them.

However, there is a lot we already do know. Children with food allergies are at risk for anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. To prevent death, anaphylaxis must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine. The Durbin-Kirk bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency. Epinephrine is safe and easy to administer. Children are able to self-administer the medication, and any adult working in a school would be capable of learning how to administer epinephrine in a matter of minutes. If school staff and student population can practice what to do in the event of a fire through multiple school-wide fire drills over the course of a year, surely 20 minutes of a staff’s Back To School in-service can be devoted to Food Allergy Education and Epinephrine Administration Training.

Nearly 6 million American children have potentially life-threatening food allergies. Schools need to be prepared to treat allergic reactions in the event a student’s personal epinephrine auto-injector isn’t available or the student is having a reaction for the first time. 

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act is not a controversial bill. It is endorsed by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of School Nurses. On average it will cost a school just over $100 to have epinephrine available to prevent a fatality from anaphylaxis. This is a small price to pay to save the life of a child.

I hope you will co-sponsor the Durbin-Kirk bill and work to assure passage of this important and life-saving legislation. Thank you for considering my views.


Sarah ********

Lesson Learned:
It doesn't take long. And is Well Worth It. Take a few minutes and personalize your own letter to your Senator. Start here: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/school-access-to-emergency-epinephrine-act1