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School says sorry after EpiPen delay for student with deadly peanut allergy

Parent Lonnie Joy said she was “horrified and saddened” by the way her daughter was treated by a school nurse after she suffered a severe allergic reaction to peanuts — and I don’t blame her.

Lonnie’s 15-year-old daughter Lia was exposed to peanuts after eating a sandwich at the John Hersey High School cafeteria, in Chicago. Lia is severely allergic to nuts and needs epinephrine to avoid the deadly consequences from anaphylaxis.

But what happened next really had me scratching my head.

Lia knew something was wrong after she bit into a turkey sandwich served with pesto and rushed to the nurse’s office. But that’s when the nurse told her to take the antihistamine Benadryl.

“Lia refused, knowing from previous experience that her symptoms would be masked by the antihistamine, though the anaphylactic reaction would not be halted, and would continue to silently and dangerously escalate undetected,” Lonnie told the Chicago Tribune.

“Instead of following Lia’s Allergy and Anaphylaxis Plan on file in the health office, which clearly states, ‘Give EpiPen First!’ the nurse opted to have her call me to confirm before administering epinephrine, with my daughter’s life held in the balance,” added Lonnie.

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During the phone call, Lonnie asked the nurse if an EpiPen had been administered and if 911 had been called and the nurse said “no” to both questions, according to WGN-TV.

“I told her to administer the EpiPen and call 911 immediately. She said it would be done, and confirmed I would meet the ambulance at Northwest Community Hospital,” Lonnie said.

But when the anxious mom arrived at the hospital she was “astonished to find that no school representative had accompanied Lia to the ER.”

“It is ludicrous that a minor would be sent alone to a hospital during school hours with no personnel to represent her,” said Lonnie. “I am horrified and saddened by the complete lack of common sense and compassion that predicated this decision.”

Township High School District 214 said it was reviewing its rules and measures on allergies, food and medical treatment. If any changes are needed, “they will be enacted right away,” District 214 spokesperson Jennifer Delgado said.

“The district sincerely apologizes for our mistakes. Student safety is always of the utmost importance, and we are working with the family to remedy the situation,” she added.

Lia is safe and well and the school agreed to pay for her medical bills. The nurse responsible for the incident is still employed at the high school, however.

What do you think about the nurse’s reaction? Please let us know your views on this worrying story in the comments below and don’t forget to share this story with friends and family. 

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