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Health: Local Schools Aren’t Equipped With Life-Saving Medication, Unlike Other States

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Are local school kids facing an unnecessary risk? Many states have laws requiring schools to be equipped with life-saving allergy medications, but as 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl shows us, that’s not the case in our area.

Amarria Johnson was a second grader who was full of life.

“I sent her to school and I told her I love her. And she said I love you mommy, I’ll see you later,” said Laura Pendleton, Amarria’s mother.

But she never did. Last January, Laura Pendleton’s little girl died after having a severe allergic reaction to a peanut at her Virginia school.

“My daughter was having hives on her tongue, her tongue was swelling,” said Laura.

Amarria never got an injection of epinephrine, a prescription medication that can reverse the devastating effects of an allergic reaction, and save someone’s life.

Since Amarria’s death, Virginia ordered all schools to keep epinephrine on hand in case of emergency. But that’s not the case here, there is no such law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware.

“I think it’s important. It can save lives,” said Dr. Terri Brown-Whitehorn, an allergist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says there should be laws everywhere requiring schools to have Epipens and other devices to administer epinephrine.

“It’s very serious, and it can happen at any time, any where, so families need to be prepared, schools need to be prepared. And this is where I really feel strongly,” said Dr. Brown-Whitehorn.

Some say if a child has allergies, it should be up to parents to supply the school with Epipens. That’s what Sara Atkins of Wynnewood does. Four of her five children have allergies, and she’s seen bad reactions up close.

“It was the scariest thing you could imagine. Your child literally their throat is closing. They’re covered in hives,” said Sara.

Last September, an Epipen saved her 6-year-old when she had a severe reaction to chalk dust.

“The teachers were amazing. They did everything we trained them to do,” said Sara.

But Atkins still thinks schools should have their own supplies too.

“It’s a dangerous situation. There are so many kids who aren’t even diagnosed. you don’t know because sometimes it takes a few times eating a food before you’ll have a reaction. so if you could save a life, why not?” said Sara.

Right now, there are bills waiting to be acted on in New Jersey. But a proposal in Pennsylvania died in the last legislative session. 3 On Your Side has learned it could be re-introduced early next year.

Related Links

Food Allergy Information- http://www.foodallergy.org/
Kids With Food Allergies Foundation- http://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/
Former PA Epinephrine House Bill- http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/billinfo.cfm?syear=2011&sind=0&body=H&type=B&bn=2067
NJ Epinephrine Bills- http://legiscan.com/gaits/view/431184 & http://legiscan.com/gaits/text/604129