There is no cure for food allergies. Unfortunately for Hau and Alice Nguyen; their boys Maxwell (9) and Nathan (7) are no strangers to this factual statement. Both of their children have been diagnosed with severe, life-threatening food allergies. In the Nguyen household; analyzing ingredients (to ensure foods that can trigger a reaction are avoided) is as normal as flicking on the television. Both Hau and Alice have become experts on their children’s food allergies and have gone to great lengths to protect their sons.
Medical concerns for their children were prevalent when their oldest child Max was only a few months old. Their son was presented with a severe case of eczema. For two years they suffered through trying to find out what was causing him such intense pain and discomfort. Soon after, the Nguyen family welcomed their younger son Nathan who also presented medical concerns related to food. After repeated visits to their pediatrician and medical specialists, they decided to venture out of the state to find answers. Their journey took them to National Jewish Health; a center in Denver, Colorado that specializes in food allergies.
The Dangers of Anaphylactic Shock
While at the facility, the family encountered one of their most frightening experiences. During a clinical trial their son was given 2.5 mg of chicken. Instantly he became lethargic and went into anaphylactic shock. Although epinephrine was administered immediately, it wasn’t enough. Their son was rushed to triage and given an adult dose of life saving epinephrine. The Nguyen’s were thankful to have done the oral food trials in a medical setting with well-educated professionals they trusted to care for their sons.
“I always knew that my sons' food allergies were severe but it was in that moment when I realized just how life threatening they are…that just a single bite of chicken could be fatal.” ~Alice Nguyen
Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom. In the Nguyen home, both of their children are affected. Imagine having to manage the diet for two children who; combined are severely allergic to over twenty things. Some of these allergies are as common as milk, eggs, wheat, chicken, turkey, and nuts.
The Comfort of Having a MedicAlert Medical ID While Living with Food Allergies
With allergies such as these, the Nguyen's are unable to take their children out to eat or run to a drive thru for a quick bite. Not to mention the difficulties they face with both school activities and holiday functions. When asked how the Nguyen’s manage these restrictions with their boys, Hau responded;
“Let them live as normal of life as possible. It’s scary having children with severe food allergies but having their MedicAlert medical ID and a service to back it helps.”
As MedicAlert KidSmart® members; both Nathan and Maxwell have their vital medical information (also known as their Emergency Medical Information Records-EMIR®) securely stored and linked to their personalized medical ID which can be accessed 24/7. Therefore, their medical IDs serve as a connection to a wide range of MedicAlert services designed to protect them in the event of an allergic reaction to foods and/or medications.
MedicAlert’s 24/7 Live Emergency Response and Family Notification Services gives Hau and Alice peace of mind when being away from their boys. In an emergency situation, they know MedicAlert’s Emergency Response Center’s first priority is to communicate their kids’ crucial medical information immediately to first responders and medical personnel.
Another terrifying episode for the boys happened when Maxwell, four years old at the time, was served a slice of ham during Thanksgiving. The knife used to cut the ham had previously been used to carve the turkey. That cross contamination could have been deadly for Max but his father acted quickly. The minute his son went into anaphylactic shock he used an EpiPen to save his life.
This has become the norm for Hau, Alice, Maxwell, and Nathan. They constantly educate their family, friends, the schools and others within the community about the severity of food allergies and how to respond if one of their children, or any child, presents an allergic reaction. The first step is knowledge. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are the only way to prevent serious health consequences.
“We can rest a little knowing there’s a service like MedicAlert out there that can help when you’re not around. It is a vital part of our emergency plan. We know it helps keep our kids safe.”
Now that the Nguyen’s have spent years perfecting their emergency plan and educating their children and those around them, they can focus on the other important things in life, like spending time with their children. The boys are excited about the summer, going fishing and playing video games with Dad, Max is looking forward to soccer this year, and Nathan is focused on karate. When asking Mom how she manages she says it best;
“They’re normal little boys. They have food allergies, but that’s not who they are. We make sure to show them how to enjoy life and food in a healthy way. Having MedicAlert is an extra level of protection.”