Several years ago, I remember watching a special on television about a new therapy in California that was having some positive outcomes for kids with food allergies. It was called Oral Immunotherapy or OIT for short. The goal of immunotherapy is to provide a long-term solution for people who have food allergies to egg, milk, peanut and/or wheat. In order to do this, the patient must be introduced to pre-measures doses of the allergen in a solution over a period of 3-4 months.
Talk about an incredibly difficult thing to put your child through! Knowingly giving them the food, whether small doses or not, that you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt will kill them. I watched in awe at these lives that were changed because the treatment worked, despite the risk, and though that maybe one day, something like that would come to Tulsa and help our son as well.
Needless to say, it did indeed make its way here and a few years later, after much discussion, research and prayer, we signed up for the program. Dairy would be the first of his allergens to tackle.
Our first visit for oral immunotherapy was a full 8 hour process that started with breathing tests & a standard check up to make sure Xander was healthy. They then established a line in his vein for emergency epinephrine if needed, and we were praying that it wouldn’t have to be used. Then came his first dose of a very small amount of diluted milk.
My heart started racing and my fears kicked in as soon as the nurse asked him “are you ready?” Xander got up and leaned in to take it and then pulled away, I saw his face and body tighten up and I could see his little mind trying to process all of this. The excitement and hope of it working and the concern if he reacted. But he pushed through and took his first dose.
For the next 7 hours, in 15 minute intervals, they checked his breathing and any signs of a rash or itchy tongue before giving him a very small dose of diluted milk. Thankfully he reacted amazingly well and worked up to 6ml of diluted milk by the end of it all. Day 1 was a success!
We are now 2 weeks into the program and I have been giving him the 6ml two times a day at home. The goal is to be able to increase the dose weekly after a follow-up appointment, but his first week in, we were unable to, due to wheezing in his chest. In this case, we simply continue to do what we have been doing and pray next week is better. Regardless of this small setback, I am amazed that he can even ingest these tiny doses, and I am hopeful that one day, I’ll be able to share pictures of his ice cream graduation party.
*For more information on OIT visit: http://www.foodallergy.org/research/overview