Mum backs push to fund injectors

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 12:39 15/01/2014

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A Blenheim mum is backing an online petition calling for life-saving auto-injectors to be funded by Pharmac.

Lindsey Bartholomew's 10-year-old daughter, Ella, was diagnosed with multiple anaphylaxis aged 16 months. This means Ella can suffer an anaphylactic reaction at the slightest contact with an allergen.

Miss Bartholomew, a solo mother, describes her daughter as a "high-scale" allergy sufferer. Ella is allergic to pineapple, nuts, seafood, shellfish and bees as well as dust, pollen and animals.

"She's also severely and moderately allergic to a heap of other things like dairy, wheat, soy, eggs and stonefruit," Miss Bartholomew said.

Ella was in and out of hospital for the first year of her life due to her allergies.

One of Miss Bartholomew's worst experiences with Ella's condition came when her daughter was just 14 months.

"There's been a few of them," Miss Bartholomew said. "Probably the scariest one for us was when she had her first reaction. She was 14 months old. We had a scallop mornay for tea, and she had the tiniest slither of cod, not even a teaspoon of it, and she just ballooned up and had a major asthma attack, which is related to being anaphylactic."

Miss Bartholomew called 111 and went straight to the emergency department with her daughter. Ella's symptoms subsided after she was treated with adrenaline and antihistamines.

Ella has dealt all her life with taking antihistamines and using auto-injectors, such as EpiPen and AnaPen, which administer a dose of adrenaline to pull her out of anaphylactic shock.

The sufferer has only 20 minutes to get to a hospital before the situation can turn fatal.

For many children and adults, the initial cost of getting an auto-injector, which ranged between $140 and $180, was out of reach, Miss Bartholomew said.

Her last auto injector was bought online from a UK pharmacy for NZ$70. New Zealand did not subsidise the cost at all.

"I myself would love to see this changed. In every other developed country in the world, they are funded.

"As the parent of a child with multiple anaphylaxis the last worry I want to have is how I will replace her pens when they are used or expire."

Ella was on to her sixth auto-injector since she was 2 years old.

Miss Bartholomew is travelling to Parliament in April for the presentation of a petition organised by Wellingtonian Helen Richardson during Allergy Awareness Week.

She will be among supporters who will lobby the government for funding for auto injectors.

"It's about time Pharmac listened to what people want," Miss Bartholomew said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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