Now that I've had a chance to catch up and calm down, I feel that I need to revisit the outrageous remarks made at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's annual conference by the organization's president Dr. Sami Bahna.
The food allergy community is infuriated by what we see as a betrayal by the head of an organization of medical professionals dedicated to treating us and our extraordinarily vulnerable children. As I've reread his high handed pronouncements about the futility of peanut bans in airplanes and schools and the rights of "non-allergic persons" to consume food whenever and wherever they wish, I've come to a few conclusions.
The first is that Dr. Bahna undoubtedly believes that he is taking a fair, balanced and reasonable approach to the subject of accommodations for food allergic individuals.
The second is that Dr. Bahna is completely out of touch with the reality that his food allergic patients face on a daily basis.
His remarks have triggered a discussion within the community as to whether peanut bans make sense in airplanes, but not schools, whether age of student/type of food/severity of allergy should be considered in making these determinations. I've jumped in myself.
This is all a distraction from the real issue.
Anyone can stand up and make declarations about the best way to manage life threatening food allergies. I consider it a minor miracle that I can sit down at my computer, post something on my blog and a couple hundred people will actually take time out of their day to read it. A few will even leave a comment or email me, and I am incredibly grateful for every response that lets me know I'm not alone in dealing with this terrifying reality that just one bite of perfectly normal food could deprive me of my child forever.
The truth is that I am just another voice on the internet, one more opinion in a sea of opinions. I am not a doctor. I am not a specialist in allergies. I most certainly am not the head of an association of medical professionals.
Dr. Bahna is all that and more. He has gratuitously made himself into an obstacle for any parent trying to convince an uncooperative school administrator to create a safe space for their allergic child to receive the education he or she is legally entitled to have. Just try asking for a food free classroom now. "Well, the president of the ACAAI says that peanut bans don't work." It won't matter if the parent's request is completely reasonable and has nothing to do with banning peanuts school wide. I can guarantee that the consequences will be completely out of proportion to the intent of Dr. Bahna's ill-advised remarks.
Dr. Bahna is also a gift to any airline executive with an emotional or financial investment in passing out little bags of peanuts to passengers. Never mind that they are completely unnecessary to the transport of passengers from Point A to Point B and have the potential to kill off some of them en route. "The president of the ACAAI says that peanut bans don't work."
To all appearances Dr. Bahna is completely oblivious to the real world implications of his pronouncement on peanut bans from his lofty post as president of the ACAAI. This lack of judgement makes him completely unsuitable for the position.
I will be emailing the ACAAI at firstname.lastname@example.org to let the association know just how inappropriate I find Dr. Bahna's remarks. I will also make a point of asking my son's allergist whether he is aware of what Dr. Bahna has said, so that at least one of the organization's voting members know what an embarrassment they have as their president.
Feel free to join me.