Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anaphylaxis Law is a Human Right

I won't go into much detail about the impetus for Allergic Living's write-in campaign for anaphylaxis laws in Quebec, since the campaign website goes over the details and it's been discussed in the media - traditional and social. Essentially, a little girl died needlessly. A protocol regarding anaphylaxis and asthma could have very well saved her life.

What baffles me is that the school reacted very similarly to the way my elementary school reacted 25 years ago. In the early days of my new egg allergy, I didn't know a lot about what was going on. No one really did; so, no one explained anything to me. So, being told that I might be able to eat eggs in baked goods...well, I didn't understand the risks of trying it out. The result was that I bought some kind of cake at a school bake sale and took a bite. It boggles my mind to remember it.

My symptoms were different from my first reaction. My tongue, eyes and lips didn't swell that second time (to this day, they don't), but my throat did. So, instead of calling an ambulance, I was told to sit in the principal's office with an ice pack on my eyes, even though I didn't end up needing the latter.

My memory is a bit foggy, since it's been a while, but I know I didn't have an EpiPen or diphenhydramine. I know we had a school nurse, but I don't recall her doing anything of note. My parents were called and I went home a while later at which point I likely took medication.

So, clearly I didn't die. Lucky for me, because my egg allergy became much more severe afterwards.

In Ontario, we now have Sabrina's Law. I think everyone around the world knows this. What they might not be aware of is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I'll be honest, the argument I'm about to make is a bit of a stretch, but I don't think that makes it invalid.

Section 7 states that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

Section 15, subsection 1 states that "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

I'll add the note that, as every school kid knows, Quebec did not sign on to the Constitution or the Charter; however, it's still applicable.

The point is that children with anaphylaxis and asthma have the right to life and the right to not be deprived of it. These children have the equal protection and equal benefit of the law, without discrimination based on physical disability. In my limited opinion (no law degree here), I think this means that these children are currently not afforded the rights and freedoms they were born to in this country. Denying them access to safer environments is denying their fundamental human rights.

When children who use wheelchairs go to school, they get ramps. Parents have pushed to have defibrillators placed in schools because there have been cases where children collapsed due to unforeseen cardiac issues and needed immediate treatment. When children, regardless of province of birth, who have asthma and anaphylaxis go to school, they should know that should something occur, there is a protocol designed to do everything possible to protect their right to live.

Please sign the Allergic Living petition. If you know people who live in Quebec, encourage them to sign it. If you live outside of Quebec or Ontario, please contact your local representative to get things started in your province or territory. On a national level, please contact your M.P. regarding Motion M-230. You can find more information at the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative website.

Setting protocols in schools isn't asking for too much. What is asking for too much is to have to wait for a child to die in each province and territory before regulations are changed. No one wants the next anaphylaxis law named after their child.

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