A moving short film detailing the story of a father who almost lost his son to anaphylaxis while on a family holiday has been produced and re-launched ahead of Father’s Day by the Anaphylaxis Campaign as the only UK wide charity supporting people affected by severe, life threatening allergies, or anaphylaxis.
The father, John Schwab, is a long standing member of the Anaphylaxis Campaign and an actor staring in films such as Zero Dark Thirty and Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets.
The film, entitled Looking for Mary, shows John giving a moving account of how while on holiday in Menorca, his son Jack, then 3, ate a snack he had eaten before – a bag of cashew nuts – but on this occasion, proceeded to have an anaphylactic reaction.
The story is topped and tailed by a moving co-incidence. The family had been out that day looking for a statue of the Virgin Mary as a gift for John’s parents. They would later find out that the woman who saved their son’s life was also called Mary.
Anaphylaxis, triggered when a sensitised individual comes in to contact with their allergen, can cause a drop in blood pressure, swelling in the face, mouth and throat leading to a narrowing of the airways, difficulty breathing, collapse and even death. Common allergens include peanuts and tree nuts, milk, eggs and non-food items, such as bee and wasp venom and Natural Rubber Latex.
John said; “My wife Tamsin screamed for help and luckily a local lady heard us, who had an adrenaline injector in her house. We administered it into Jack’s thigh. This undoubtedly saved Jack’s life. We drove fast to the hospital as by now Jack was shaking and in a bad way. My wife ran into the emergency room with Jack, who by this stage had gone into a severe anaphylactic shock and was limp in her arms. The doctors and emergency staff rushed to help. It was terrifying as it was touch and go whether he would pull through. Thankfully he did and Jack is 12 now.”
Lynne Regent, Anaphylaxis Campaign CEO said; “John and Jack’s story is very moving and could easily have ended in tragedy. Unfortunately, however, it is the sort of story we hear on a weekly basis at the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Deaths from anaphylaxis do occur, in fact, there are on average 20 deaths every year. Our mission is to support people with severe allergies and we have been doing just that for 20 years this year. We desperately need donations to help us raise awareness of the risks and what to do in an emergency to ensure that stories like John and Jack’s do not end in tragedy.”
Jack said; “I remember I started getting spots around my face, my mouth was itching, I was sick and struggled to breathe. The Doctor told my Dad that the team had done everything they could. My parents say I put in a big fight for my life. I am so grateful to them – and to Mary.”
Donations can be made online at www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/donate.
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