WLia Sommer bit into a turkey sandwich with pesto at the John Hersey High School cafeteria, she had no idea she’d soon be fighting for her life.
Sommer said to NBC Chicago that she felt her “throat closing up a little bit” after taking a bite of the sandwich. Sommer, who has a severe peanut allergy, immediately went to the school nurse for assistance. Instead of giving Sommer an epinephrine shot to combat the effects of her allergic reaction, the nurse offered her an antihistamine.
“She recommended that I take some Benadryl and then just wait and see but I told her that I’ve had these symptoms before, I need to take my Epi-Pen immediately,” Sommer said to NBC Chicago. Sommer refused to take the antihistamine and called her mom.
When Sommer’s mom spoke to the nurse, she insisted that Sommer receive an epinephrine injection.
“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,” Lia’s mother Lonnie Joy told WGNTV.
After Sommer received the shot, she was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital according to WGNTV.
Sommer’s school district apologized for exposing her to peanuts and they offered to pay her medical bills, but they insist that the school nurse did nothing wrong.
“The Food and Nutrition Services Department substituted peanuts for pine nuts in the pesto sauce and did not inform our students and staff of that change, which is inconsistent with district protocols,” the district said via statement according to NBC Chicago. “The student presented mild symptoms of a potential allergic reaction. The nurse contacted the parent and an EpiPen was administered. The school nurse acted professionally and, consistent with district protocols called 911, which happens whenever an EpiPen is administered. We apologize to the family and are working to improve our protocols regarding allergies and food in the Food and Nutrition Services Department.”
Lonnie Joy Sommers said the school district’s apologies and remuneration are not enough. She wants to see district policies change so that a child who isn’t able to advocate for himself doesn’t end up seriously harmed.