My letter to MPs to gain support for Motion 546

Today, December 7th, my letter to MPs was shared in the House of Commons by Debbie Bruce to gain support for Motion 546. It was an honour to know that my daughter's story would be shared in hopes of shedding some light on the realities of anaphylaxis for our children.  I thought I would share my letter here:

Dear Mr Szabo,
I am writing to you to bring to your awareness a motion (#546) that will be presented at the House of Commons this Fall.
*Motion 546 reads:
That in the opinion of the House, anaphylaxis is a serious concern for an increasing number of Canadians and the government should take the appropriate measures necessary to ensure these Canadians are able to maintain a high quality of life.
I am requesting your support for this Motion. At 9 months of age, my daughter was diagnosed with anaphylactic allergies to milk (including all dairy products, milk, cheese, etc), eggs, tree nuts and peanuts.  As an infant she was exposed to these allergens through nursing because I was ingesting these foods.  Her skin was raw with eczema and she would break out into hives after nursing.  The doctors did not identify the allergies immediately but after a severe reaction that landed us in the emergency room, she was diagnosed by skin testing. 

Our daughter is now 4 years old and the impact of these allergies on our daily life is immense.  The anxiety that it causes our family and the accommodations that we make on a daily basis are challenging. Our daughter had a near death reaction shortly before her 3rd birthday after ingesting one bite of a food that had tree nuts in it.  I was driving in the car when she began to react with sneezing and then passing out.  I pulled over and called 9-1-1.  She began vomiting.  When the ambulance finally arrived, the attendants were not knowledgeable about food allergies and anaphylaxis.  They advised me to take my daughter home and to give her some benadryl if I was concerned. I questioned them regarding her fainting and if that should be a cause for concern.  They told me that fainting is not a symptom of an anaphylactic reaction.  I mentioned that I had read that a dramatic drop in blood pressure can result from the anaphylactic response and so they agreed to take her into the ambulance for assessment.  Once we were in the back of the truck, she began to pass out again and they decided that in fact, she should be transported to hospital.  They insisted that I drive my own car and would not allow me to travel with her in the back. So I followed behind, and upon arriving at the hospital, the ambulance driver rolled down his window and told me to park the car in the parking garage and meet them inside.  By the time I parked 4 stories up and made my way to the Emergency ward (assuming all must be fine as the Ambulance driver was so calm), my daughter was in acute resuscitation.  I had nurses yelling at me for not administering the epi-pen and I was shocked because the ambulance attendants had told me to take her home.  You would not have believed the sight before you to look at how my daughter had deteriorated over the course of that ambulance ride.  When I saw her in the E.R. she looked like she had been in a boxing ring with Mike Tyson.  Her face was bright red and swollen, with eyes completely swollen shut like she had been beaten.  Her armpits and groin were covered in hives that she had scratched raw while in the ambulance.  Her voice was hoarse and her breathing laboured. It was the most frightening experience to see my child in that state....and all from one bite of a food that she is allergic to. 

I think it is so important to raise awareness to the real medical issue that anaphylaxis represents for Canadians.  We need to teach the public, educators and the medical community how to recognize, diagnose and respond to these reactions. We need to spread awareness that anaphylaxis does not just mean uncomfortable gastrointestinal upset or itchy hives, it can mean a life-threatening drop in blood pressure that can result in heart attack or a swelling of the airway that can cause the child to stop breathing. 

I have had incidents flying with Air Canada, where my daughter reacted to cross-contamination from touching the movie screen and the chair handles. You can imagine how terrifying it is to know that an epi-pen may only work for 5-20 minutes and you are up in the air with your child wondering if the plane would be able to land in time if there was an anaphylactic emergency. 

I recently paid $350 for lab tests that are not covered (RAST blood testing) only to find out that the results are inconclusive and not predictive of future reactions!

I have been amazed at the lack of education that doctors, nurses and ambulance attendees have had.

The facts are clear that allergies and anaphylaxis are increasing at an alarming rate in our country.

I hope that you will share in my passion for raising awareness of Anaphylaxis at the federal level.

Thank you so much for your time.


Melissa Pearson

What next? I am anxiously awaiting news to see how the motion was supported and will post as soon as I know more.  In the meantime, please see my post on contacting the Canadian Health Minister to help get important food labeling regulations passed before the end of the year.  We need your help to accomplish this!

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