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Kids’ Food Allergies Aren’t Just Parents’ Responsibility — We All Need to Do Our Part

allergies

Two really cool friends of mine have a daughter who is severely allergic to peanuts and dairy. Before I met them I hadn’t been close to any parents of kids with severe food allergies. After becoming acquainted with Jodie and her husband, I was astounded by all that they go through on a daily basis.

Not only do they have to always be on their game when preparing meals, but they have to be extra cautious every time they leave the house. Can you imagine sending your severely allergic child off to school not knowing if some absent-minded parent is going to pack a PB&J in their kid’s lunch? Hell, I offered her daughter an ice cream cone not twenty minutes after learning of the dairy allergy!

It’s easy to forget some other kid’s allergy; to overlook things that seem inconsequential to you and just do what you’re used to doing. But before you know it, you could have a life-threatening allergic reaction on your hands. As parents, we all worry enough — can you imagine having a child who is deathly allergic to such common foods as peanuts and cheese? I don’t know how they do it, but they’re champions, I can tell you that much.

I’m all for any accommodations I can make to ensure that nobody, especially a child, comes into contact with something that could endanger their life. That’s why I was so thrilled by Ryanair’s response to a passenger on a recent flight who apparently ignored three clear warnings from staff to not eat peanuts because a child on board was severely allergic. As The Telegraph reports, “Fae Platten stopped breathing and passed out twenty minutes into a return flight from Tenerife, where she had been on holiday with her parents, after a man sitting four rows back from her opened a bag of peanuts.”

The girl’s face became swollen and she lost consciousness after peanut particles were circulated by the air conditioning system on board. Fae was injected with anti-allergy adrenaline and taken to the hospital after the plane landed. Even though the man who opened the peanuts reportedly didn’t speak English very well, Ryanair banned him from flying with the airline for two years. Fae’s mother, Katy Patten, 30, told the Daily Mail, “I was so scared for Fae. There were three very clear warnings to everyone on board yet this man ignored them all. He was a dad with teenage children so he should have known better. He was incredibly selfish.”

I don’t know if he was selfish, maybe he just didn’t hear or understand the warnings. Regardless, the responses to the article in The Telegraph surprised me. Here are just a few:

“Shame about the little girl and her allergy but it is the parents responsibility to manage her condition. To ban the other passenger, who did not speak English well, is unfair. Did this mother expect the whole of Stanstead to remove all nuts whilst she was in transit. She complains of the banned passengers selfishess. She should look at herself.”

“I think if you are a parent of such children then you need to take better precautions and be in places where it is easier to ‘control’ the environment. I’m not blaming the parents, but this must have been an eye-opener for them.”

“I think Katy Patten should just accept that, until she is better able to manage her daughter’s condition, she should refrain from exposing the child to the inevitable risks which are bound to occur when travelling on public transport.”

“The world has gone crazy — so all the airline food is produced in a nut free environment? I think not. We were informed on a Monarch flight, that they would not be selling nuts due to one passenger’s nut allergy but nothing was said about not eating your own. It must be very scary to have a child that has such a severe allergy but it really is for them to adapt to the world, not the other way around.”

It’s that last quote that really struck me. Is it really for allergy sufferers to adapt to the world? Or don’t we, as decent human beings, owe it to them to go without a stupid bag of peanuts for a few hours? Is it really that hard? Are you going to die if you don’t get your peanuts? No. Could someone else die because you had to eat them? Yes.

I can’t even begin to understand a response like telling Fae’s parents to take better precautions. They carried an EpiPen, told the airline about the allergy, and the airline warned the passengers three times. Are the above commenters really suggesting someone with a severe allergy should never get on an airplane because some folks can’t deal without having access to peanuts for a few hours? Is that who we are as a society? Every man, woman, and child for themselves? I certainly hope not.

 

Image courtesy of ThinkStock

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