Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia Cures Teen Boy Of Egg Allergy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has helped cure a teenage boy of his egg allergy.

Making chocolate chip cookies with eggs used to be something that was life-threatening for 15-year-old Isaac Keiser.

“I have anaphylaxis, so my throat will close up and I get hives and vomit and I am always in constant fear that’s going to happen,” said Isaac.

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His childhood was spent avoiding exposure, which is no easy task considering eggs are in so many things.

“He couldn’t go to the restaurant and order a hamburger because earlier that morning they cooked an egg on that same grill. It’s terrifying,” said Isaac’s mother, Gwen Keiser.

Keiser made sure her son was always equipped with an epi pen, but he still had to be careful about an accidental exposure.

“I always had to get out when everybody had cake or something,” said Isaac. “Just makes you kind of different and separate from everybody else.”

That’s all changed now because Isaac was the first patient to be desensitized to eggs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Jonathan Spergel, chief of the allergy section at CHOP, says allergies to things like milk, eggs or peanuts are caused by an overreaction of the immune system.

“In school, it’s about one kid per classroom, so this is a huge thing,” said Spergel.

Desensitization starts with tiny exposures to the allergen that’s causing the reaction.

“You slowly get your body used to it,” said Spergel.

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It took a while, but Isaac can now enjoy cookies and eat anything with eggs.

“It’s all very new because I’ve been very sheltered from all these foods and now I can try them all,” said Isaac. “It’s all very overwhelming but so exciting.”

“I cannot tell you how fantastic it is,” said Keiser. “It literally has been life-changing.”

Now, instead of fearing chocolate chip cookies, Isaac can devour them.

The research on treating allergies is continuing at CHOP and the doctors there say it has to be done with medical supervision.

It’s not safe to expose children outside a hospital setting.

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One Comment

  1. Suzie Fromer says:

    Oral immunotherapy, or OIT, is being studied (with great results) in clinical studies like this at many major research centers across the country. It is ALSO being offered now for many foods (peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, wheat etc.) by a network of board certified allergists in private practice. We are so fortunate to have so many allergists responding to the needs of our community here in the U.S.; I have seen families traveling here from the UK and Australia b/c OIT just isn’t available there outside of a clinical study.

    Dr. Manav Segal is offering OIT now for peanut and milk in the Philadelphia area, and is going to start offering egg OIT soon as well. For a complete list, see, searchable by state and allergen.

    Thank you for this article; OIT is an amazing treatment that is helping so many children out of this allergy lifestyle–especially important as they are in the teen years and on the edge of independence. I would however like to point out that while OIT offers some tremendous benefits, it is not actually a cure. There are certain restrictions that are in place after a patient graduates, including the need to still respect rest periods with no vigorous activity or hot showers 1 hour prior, 2 hours post (or one hour and bed) ingestion of the full dose. Down dosing may also be necessary during an illness/fever, as that can also cause a reaction–our patients always check in with their doctors when this occurs. Also, a maintenance dose of the allergen must be taken daily for the forseeable future to maintain desensitization. More studies will be very helpful in determining if these restrictions can be lightened, but until a patient is cleared for ‘sustained unresponsiveness,’ OIT is a lifestyle. It’s a far better one than living with food allergies, but the patient is not considered cured and should ALWAYS still carry an epinephrine autoinjector, just in case.

    Suzie Fromer
    @oit_works on twitter; @oitworks on Facebook and Instagram

    1. Thanks for this article–bringing attention to OIT. My son was treated by a researcher who left the Duke study and opened his own private practice in 2010. His IgE has dropped from over 100 to 4.56 at lowest count. He hasn’t had a reaction since starting treatment. I’m torn on the “cure” word, because OIT does fit the medical definition of “cure,” but even doctors are hesitant to say OIT is a cure because we don’t know if the allergy will come back in their lifetime or not? Either way, building tolerance and not having reactions makes all the difference for us. We’re at Private Practice OIT on fb and for more information.

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