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Daysia's allergy story: Nurse Marshall and an EpiPen to the rescue

Rick Wagner • May 13, 2018 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT — This Mother’s Day, Angela Braan is thankful to be the mother of two daughters.

But last month, her younger daughter, Daysia Sellers, had an allergic reaction of unknown origin that would be a nightmare for any mom.

Braan maintains that Daysia is alive today thanks to Robinson Middle School nurse Suzanne Marshall and an EpiPen that was available thanks to Kingsport City Schools’ participation in a free program offered by the device’s manufacturer.

“I want people to know she (Marshall) saved my daughter’s life,” Braan said.

The odd thing is, a common doughnut might have caused the allergic reaction that sent Daysia to a local emergency room. However, the episode could have been caused by something she inhaled or touched at school. 

“We really don’t know what it was,” Braan said.

WHAT HAPPENED?

On April 21, as was usual for a school day, 14-year-old eighth-grader Daysia arrived at Robinson by 7:30 a.m. She ate a doughnut a few minutes later. By 7:58 a.m., Daysia began to notice some alarming symptoms.

“I ate a doughnut here and my throat started to itch and swell, and my lips started itching and swelling,” Daysia said.

Marshall gave Daysia Benadryl and the teen’s mother received a call, but when the Benadryl didn’t work, the nurse administered an EpiPen, short for epinephrine, at about 8:28 a.m. 

The EpiPen caused her heartbeat and blood pressure to increase a bit but soon began reducing the allergic reactions.

Per medical protocol, school officials had to call 911 after Marshall administered the EpiPen, and an ambulance transported Daysia to Indian Path Medical Center after Braan received a second call. The mother called her husband, minister Barry Braan of Greater Life Church of Kingsport, as well as Daysia’s dad. Marshall and Daysia said the ambulance arrived in six minutes.

Braan, owner of Cassia’s Salon and Spa in Kingsport, said when she got the second call she was at a beauty supply store close to Indian Path and beat the ambulance to the hospital. Riding in the ambulance with Daysia was Robinson counseling assistant Rhonda White, who stayed at the hospital until medical personnel said the girl was going to be OK. 

After intravenous treatment and steroids, Daysia was discharged from the hospital and wanted to go to color guard tryouts for the D-B band as she had planned that evening, but her mother and doctors said no to that plan. (Nevertheless, Daysia made the squad in the same band in which her older sister participated.) Daysia went to her primary care provider, pediatric nurse practitioner Jenny Height of Holston Medical Group, the next day and then returned to school.

Daysia later went to an allergist, who plans to give her allergy tests in June. 

WHY WAS WHERE IT HAPPENED IMPORTANT?

Braan said that if her daughter had to have an allergic reaction, school was a better place than at home or on the road. Since Daysia had no prior known allergies, Braan said she wouldn’t have known what to do initially and that nobody in the family carried an EpiPen. Braan said that she had been allergic to chocolate and shellfish earlier in life but outgrew it, while her older daughter, Cassie Sellers, remains allergic to tree nuts.

Since the incident, Daysia keeps an EpiPen with her, and her mother carries one, too. 

Vicki Johnston, KCS nursing supervisor, said this is the second year the school system has participated in the free EpiPens for Schools Program by Mylan, maker of the devices.

WHAT WAS IN THAT DOUGHNUT?

Braan said she’s checked the ingredients list for the doughnut and found it had soy milk, eggs and wheat, but Daysia hasn’t been allergic to those or any other things as far as she and the family know.

Daysia is to undergo allergy testing next month, after all the Benadryl has gotten out of her system.

“It was really scary,” Daysia said. “I haven’t eaten any doughnuts.”

Braan said the allergist told her something in the doughnut or something in the air or something Daysia touched could have triggered her daughter’s allergic reaction. It also could be a one-time occurrence, Braan said, meaning nothing might show up on the allergy tests. 

Otherwise, Daysia has gone back to her regular diet with no problems. And her mother is celebrating Mother’s Day today. 

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