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Story of the Month

Our 11-Year-Old Takes Charge in Emergency

Samantha realized that she needed her epinephrine medication right away, as she is severely allergic to egg. When they arrived at her friend’s house, our brave daughter chose to administer the auto-injector herself despite the fact that there was a parent offering to administer it for her.

Shortly after, Samantha phoned me to explain what had happened and that she had given herself the EpiPen.

Her first question was: “Mommy, are you mad at me?”

I said, “Of course not! If anything, I am so proud of you for administering the auto-injector yourself”.

Samantha was not, however, out of the woods yet. Upon arriving at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton (Canada) by ambulance, hives emerged all over her stomach and back. She became very itchy and began developing severe stomach pain followed by vomiting. The medical staff started an IV and administered several drugs, including anti-inflammatories, anti-spasmodic and anti-nausea drugs. It took several hours to stop this frightening reaction, and Samantha was then on prednisone for four days.

As a family, we learned several things from this experience. First, of course, is that we cannot stress enough how important it is to always read labels and act quickly to call 911 once an epinephrine auto-injector has been administered.

Even after epinephrine has been given, emergency medical care is required immediately because severely allergic individuals may continue to experience symptoms of anaphylaxis. They may need emergency respiratory or cardiac care, or even to be resuscitated – in case where the breathing stops altogether.

But as harrowing as that day was for our family, as parents, we are also proud of what we learned about our daughter. Samantha, at such a young age, had the courage to administer her auto-injector on her own. Yes she made an error (one she’s not likely to forget soon), but more importantly, our brave girl didn’t hesitate to take charge and to act to give a needle to herself to protect her own life.

The years of educating her have obviously paid off, and we hope other families with allergic children will appreciate from our experience, the crucial importance of that continuing and lengthy learning process.

Charmaine and Elio Posteraro live in Hamilton, Ontario.

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