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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bill M210 Update

As you recall, Bill M210 is making its way through the legislative process here in British Columbia. I recently posted about the bill and also how you could help. Titled the 'Anaphylactic Student Protection Act 2007', the proposed law would make schools a safer place for allergic children.

On May 7 Sara Shannon will be in attendance at the BC Legislature. David Cubberly, who has put forth Bill M210 will introduce Sara and tell the story of her daughter Sabrina, who left us several years ago as a result of an anaphylactic reaction in her school.

We are all hoping that Bill M210 does make it to its second reading on May 28. For that to happen we need the support of the Liberals who have a majority government. Through my network I have personally contacted 10 Liberal MLAs including 4 ministers.

Here is the text of the letter I sent:

Dear _________,

I am writing to you in an effort to build support for the "Anaphylactic Student Protection Act, 2007" as tabled by MLS David Cubberly in March 2007.

This past December our 21 month old daughter had an anaphylactic reaction to peanut. It was terrifying. She did not actually even eat a peanut - she ate a gingerbread cookie that came in contact with a peanut butter cookie from a friend's Christmas baking exchange. Within 60 seconds she was covered in hives and losing her ability to breathe. Without the quick response of the paramedics we may have lost our little girl.

Just this past weekend our daughter was rushed to the hospital again. Without my wife's quick response, including the administration of an EpiPen epinephrine auto-injector, there is no way to know how far this allergy would have progressed.

It has been said that one of the hardest things about anaphylaxis is convincing non-allergic people in our daughter's life that this is real. As we have all seen with the tragic death of Carley Kohnen in British Columbia recently, these allergies are very real and very dangerous.

In an effort to mitigate risk, we have educated ourselves on the allergy and rid our home of peanut products. That being said, there are others in the community that we will come to rely on heavily for our daughter's safety, especially the staff in our schools. In many cases emergency response is required in a matter of minutes and without without clear emergency preparedness policy and procedures out daughter is at risk of a fatal reaction.

In his first reading of the Anaphylactic Student Protection Act, 2007, MLA David Cubberly mentioned the case of Sabrina Shannon who died at school after an anaphylactic reaction. There are many other cases just like hers. These children face considerable risk in a school environment but through awareness, policies and emergency response preparedness this risk can be significantly reduced.

People often say that this only affects 2% of the population but that is simply not true. These children have parents, friends and relatives that would be devastated should they have a fatal reaction. I would like you to consider this math ... if the the death of an anaphylactic child directly affected even 20 friends and family members in the community, then it is reasonable to estimate that over 40% of your constituents are directly and positively impacted by this legislation. Anaphylaxis is not just the concern of a small, vocal minority. It is becoming pervasive in our community and this will only increase given that the incidence of food allergy growing at an alarming rate.

I ask that you to support the "Anaphylactic Student Protection Act, 2007". It is sensible, pragmatic policy that will save the lives of children. There is also considerable support for the implementation of this policy. Organizations such as Anaphylaxis Canada have deep experience in supporting schools with education and safety programs. They would be eager to help. Teachers, principals and staff will not be left alone.

It takes a village to support children with anaphylaxis - you would do these kids a kind service by voting in favour of this bill.

Thank you in advance for your support ... and for your vote!


Jake said...

Wow. I just browsed on in. I wish they had had something like this legislation when I was a kid - those first few school episodes were horrifying, though I can laugh in hindsight at how careless I was.

Here's some perspective and encouragement from someone whose parents cared and suffered as much as you guys:

I'm a 26-year-old who put gray hair on his folks' heads due to being allergic or sensitive to about a hundred different things, including peanuts. They ran that skin patch test on me and my arm looked like bubble wrap.

I still eat things to which I'm sensitive but not seriously so - fruits and grains and the like - it's an itchy existence, but if I avoid one thing, I have to avoid EVERYTHING, and that means living on rice gruel. Some good guacamole is totally worth the Aveeno bath that must follow.

Whether through hundreds of reactions or some other factor, my anaphylactic reactions have lessened in intensity, and I've developed a keen sense of the onset signs - soon as I feel that tongue-tingle, I stop eating, swish some water, chug some benadryl. While very uncomfortable, I no longer panic because I'm in tune with every little feeling, and am able to ride it out without defaulting to the ER. Haven't been in 10 years.

Though some places are "allergy-friendly", cross-contamination is almost impossible to avoid unless you prepare everything you eat personally. As an adult, I decided not to live in a bubble, buy alternative products, or stop dining out. Sometimes my face swells up, yes. But I think the worst part - the constant, nagging fear - has passed.

Take solace in the fact that as your daughter grows up she'll develop a sort of sixth sense about what will hurt her, and even if she never grows out of it, at least she'll grow INTO it so it doesn't rule her life.

And, by the way, if she has any sense as a grown-up, she'll be incredibly appreciative of all you've done to keep her safe. Despite what she'll say as a teenager.

NoPeanuts said...

Great comment! I appreciate your insights into how my daughter might feel about her allergy over time. I also find it very interesting that you have become so in tune with the warning signs. I know it's logical that this would happen but I take great comfort in knowing that you are able to deal with the reaction on your own before it becomes severe.