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Introducing solid foods to babies can be messy and exciting, but for Anthony’s family, it turned out to be terrifying as well. An encounter with yogurt led to Anthony losing consciousness.
Shocked, his mom, Kate, called 911. She watched as Anthony developed hives from head to toe.
“That day our whole world changed,” Kate recalls.
Anthony was diagnosed with a number of life-threatening food allergies: milk, peanuts and legumes, and egg. His allergies were so intense that as a youngster he carried a fanny pack with two epi pens in it and learned how to administer epinephrine himself. He didn’t feel comfortable at friends’ houses and would sometimes scratch his skin until he bled—he was constantly reacting to trace amounts of allergens in his environment.
The family’s world became very small. They couldn’t travel to locations that weren’t near a hospital, and Kate was terrified to fly on planes that couldn’t make a quick landing.
Hope came in the form of a clinical trial held at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. Anthony enrolled in the three-year study when he was 7 years old. His family would travel three times a week to appointments where Anthony would be exposed to his allergens in a monitored setting and provided with medications that would regulate his body’s reactions. It was certainly not easy. Sometimes Anthony would have intense reactions—once needing two epi pen injections at once. But through it all, he and his family trusted the team at the Center and persevered.
“Anthony has learned how his body responds to his allergens and can respond appropriately,” Kate says.
Today, Anthony can encounter his allergens and his life is not at risk. His family was able to move further away from Packard Children’s and nearer his favorite place to mountain bike: Mount Tamalpais. He goes skiing with friends and can even roam beyond cell phone service range in his adventures.
The future is bright, and Anthony thinks he may want to follow in the footsteps of those who made such an incredible impact on his life to become an allergist.
“I saw how they opened my world, and I want to do that for other people,” Anthony says.
The research that impacted Anthony’s life wouldn’t have been possible without donors who support the Allergy Center.
When reflecting on his experience and everything it took to bring him this far, Anthony says he is inspired by something Martin Luther King, Jr. said during a speech in 1960: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
Come Scamper with Anthony on June 25 and cheer on all of our amazing food allergy families as they continue their journeys.