Peace of mind when you can't be there.
Star Allergy Alerts hopes to make the lives of parents and carers a little easier, by providing a range of products to raise allergy awareness for the safety of those we love.
My name is Donna Rendell. I am the mother of a child with life-threatening food allergies.
At six weeks of age, my daughter Stella was diagnosed with eczema. We battled severe bouts with numerous stays in hospital. It was suggested that Stella should be tested for allergies as eczema is common in allergy sufferers.
She underwent a blood test at 6 months, and we were informed that she had a definite nut allergy and a possible egg allergy.
Around 12 months of age, I tested Stella on scrambled eggs and she proceeded to vomit and develop a rash and swollen lips. She was also inadvertently given peanut butter by a babysitter. She reacted with swollen lips, a rash developed on her cheeks and hands, and she started to vomit profusely.
A frightening time
We immediately sought out an Allergy Specialist and Stella was tested for food allergies. She underwent a scratch test on her back, using trace amounts of various foods. Our fears were confirmed; Stella tested positive and was diagnosed as anaphylactic to egg whites, all nuts and associated produce. At this point we were advised that we would need to carry a prescribed Epipen (Adrenalin injection) at all times. We were given instructions on administering the injection and were advised that Stella's allergic responses would most likely increase in severity with each subsequent reaction. Not good news for any parent!
Since then it has been an extremely frightening time. Our daughter's life is at constant risk by well meaning relatives and friends who offer Stella food containing eggs and nuts. We continually tell everyone we meet of Stella's allergies but unfortunately as we live in such a busy world, people don't always understand the severity of the issue. Stella is re-tested every 12 months and she is now also allergic to sesame and possibly lentils. At age 5 Stella underwent an egg and nut challenge under strict supervision in hospital, where she was given controlled amounts of the allergens to see whether she could tolerate small amounts of the foods.
Stella is now able to tolerate cooked egg which makes life a lot easier, but she is still highly allergic to raw egg. Her nut and sesame allergies remain unchanged.
Keeping her safe
Our biggest concern is that as Stella gets older (she is now 10), and inevitably spends more time away from home at play-dates, sleep-overs, parties, school camps etc., we cannot always be there to protect her from harm.
My idea was to create a range of products to help communicate the allergy message for both parent and child. Simple easy to use products to make everyone aware of the dangers of food and medical allergies, with fun colourful designs that attract attention wherever the child may be.
My aim is to increase allergy awareness in a fun, child friendly and practical way. My hope is that Star Allergy Alerts products will give peace of mind to parents, to know that allergy kids may be just that little bit safer when away from home.
Together with Jane Fletcher from J6 design , we created each of the Star Allergy Alerts designs. "The aim was to create funky, modern designs using bright colours and cute characters that children will love. We do not want to alienate children with allergies - we just want to send a clear message to their carers."
Our products are meant to serve as a reminder to others when you are not around. They should not replace open regular communication with your child and their carers. Anaphylaxis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that requires the care of a qualified medical professional. If you think that your child might have an allergy, please see your paediatrician or doctor immediately.
Donna Rendell has been interviewed by Career FAQs, Australia's leading publisher of career resources, about her work with Star Allergy Alerts.
Read her interview here
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