Isaiah (right), his mother Tanya Gesslein, and younger brother Silas at the 2019 Skate for Food Allergies event, where they raised $2,500 for allergen and immunotherapy research in partnership with BC Children’s Hospital. (Courtesy of Tanya Gesslein)

West Shore fundraiser inspired by peanut allergy, treatment

Skate for Food Allergies takes place on Sunday, Feb. 16 at The Q Centre from 4 to 5 p.m.

Tanya Gesslein had the fright of her life while visiting an open house in 2014.

She looked in shock as her five-year-old son, Isaiah, began turning a bright share of red. Tears welled up in his eyes as he began vomiting.

“He told me his mouth felt funny,” said the Colwood mom. “In that moment, I just remember him saying that he wanted to lie down. It was one of the scariest moments to experience.”

Isaiah had eaten a chocolate chip cookie at the open house, which was made with a spoon previously used to make peanut butter cookies.

He had just experienced his first allergic reaction to peanuts.

READ MORE: Study finds peanut allergy treatment safe for allergists to use with young kids

Now, 11-year-old Isaiah is eating peanut products – ‘Bamba’ to be exact. Bamba is a crunchy corn-puffed snack coated with a light layer of liquid peanut butter. Every day, Isaiah eats two puffs in order to build his tolerance.

The process is called oral immunotherapy (OIT), in which progressive doses of the allergen are given for an extended period of time. It’s run by the allergen and immunology department at BC Children’s Hospital.

The program is aimed at possibly curing children with severe food allergies, such as peanuts, walnuts, cashews and pistachios.

“At the time, the only advice [by doctors] was to always carry an EpiPen and avoid peanuts at all costs,” Gesslein said. “To be honest, I got quite depressed. It’s been such a change. If you had told me this was a possibility before, I don’t know if I would’ve believed it.”

In the future, Isaiah will aim to reach four puffs a day and may even attempt small portions of peanut butter.

“There’s a photo of one of the kids I worked with eating peanut butter out of the jar hanging in my office,” said Dr. Scott Cameron, a Victoria-based pediatric allergist and immunologist. “To be able to walk into a restaurant and not worry about your kids is freeing. Some parents have cried when I told them they don’t need to carry an EpiPen anymore.”

ALSO READ: West Shore fundraiser serves up hope for kids with food allergies

Currently, there is a one-year waitlist for children under the age of seven to get into the program. According to Cameron, there is a shortage of allergists in the province. Participants must be tested for at least two and a half hours by health officials to see their reaction to various allergens.

Cameron, who works closely at BC Children’s Hospital’s allergy and immunology department, will be at an upcoming skate fundraiser in support of OIT research.

Skate for Food Allergies, organized by Gesslein, takes place on Sunday, Feb. 16 from 4 to 5 p.m. For an hour, attendees can skate with the Victoria Grizzlies and have the chance to chat with Cameron and his colleague, Dr. Victoria Cook about treatments for severe food allergies.

Attendees will need to bring their own skates. Skate admission is included with game tickets when the Grizzlies go head to head against the Powell River Kings. Tickets are available at victoriagrizzlies.com.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

fundraiser

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two Scout leaders found near Sooke

The pair went missing Sunday afternoon

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps despite court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

Provincial grant approved for deer contraception program

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read