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School and Allergies, Asthma

Family Angered by Allergic Daughter’s Death at School

Megann Ayotte Lefort. Image courtesy of her family, via La Presse.

This article was filed Nov. 11, 2011 See also the newer article from Nov. 22 here.

The parents of a 6-year old Montreal girl who died of an asthma attack or allergic reaction are upset that a newly released Quebec Coroner’s report assigns no blame in the case and makes no recommendations for school emergency procedures. The girl’s parents fault school employees for waiting too long before calling 911 when Megann Ayotte Lefort was having symptoms of breathing distress.

According to the details given in the Coroner’s report, on Sept. 16, 2010, Josée Ayotte, Megann’s mother, dropped her daughter off at the school’s child-care program at 6:15 p.m. so that she and her former husband could attend an hour-long parent-teacher meeting.

Over the next three-quarters of an hour, Megann cried and complained of missing her parents. At 6:45, one of the teachers gave the little girl two doses from her Ventolin inhaler for breathing troubles. At 7 p.m., Megann was still crying, which the teachers noted was not normal behaviour for her. She also complained of itching (and one of the teachers had noticed skin welts on the girl when she arrived).

When her breathing failed to improve, the teachers sought out Megann’s mother, who tried to administer another dose of Ventolin while a teacher called 911. The girl wasn’t able to take the dose.

Firefighters arrived on the scene first, and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The firefighters’ pediatric ventilator was defective, and a new one had to be found. Paramedics soon arrived, and transported Megann to hospital, where an emergency team took over, to no avail. The vivacious youngster was pronounced dead at 8:20 p.m.

Megann’s father, Sylvain Lefort, is angry that the Coroner did not find fault with the school’s actions. The report’s only recommendation is that the fire department more regularly monitor its resuscitation tools to ensure they are functional.

“There are no recommendations for the school. Why?” Lefort said to the La Presse newspaper. (He spoke to the reporter in French. Allergic Living has translated his comments.) “If we don’t want this situation to happen again at another school, the report ought to have made recommendations.”

Meantime, the school board is upset at Lefort’s efforts to hold the school accountable. “We understand [the family's] distress,” a board spokesperson told La Presse. “But the school has nothing to do with it.”

Next: Was It Asthma or Food Allergy?

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.