At only 12 years old, Louis has been playing the piano for nearly seven years. He also likes to write music. But composing piano pieces is only one of his many talents. He enjoys playing soccer, is a straight-A student, and is amazingly fast at solving Rubik’s Cubes. Louis can remember the notes for complex classical piano pieces, but he doesn’t recall his first food allergy reaction at age 3.
“It was a walnut cake I was eating,” his mom, Claudia, recalled. “I was holding him. I had just taken my first bite of the cake, and a tiny piece the size of a grain of rice fell on his lip. And that’s when the allergic reaction started.”
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They rushed Louis to a nearby pediatrician who gave him an epinephrine injection. The doctor told the Martins they should not give him peanuts and tree nuts. Later, his parents took him to an allergist where they found that he was allergic to peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
The Martins set out to better understand how to manage food allergies right away. As Louis was learning to read, he was also learning to read food labels by age 5. Claudia and Luis researched and studied many food allergy resources. And while the family was careful when eating out, they still had a few close calls.
The first case of anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction – that Louis remembers happened when he was 6 years old. Louis had a reaction at a restaurant the family had comfortably eaten at many times. The reaction was likely from cross-contact.
Another time, the family had hired a private chef for a birthday party instead of eating out, hoping that would reduce the risk of a reaction. Even though they told the chef about Louis’ food allergies, he made a basil pesto sauce that contained cashews and served it on a pizza. After these close calls, the family established a safety rule to protect their son: always eat at home when possible.
Occasions like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and birthday parties are a large source of anxiety for the Martins. Louis’ parents work hard to decide if he is safe eating with his friends or if he needs to bring his own snacks or sweets.
Fortunately, Louis has also had a steady stream of advocates to support him. Several teachers have made extra effort to learn about food allergies to help keep him safe under their watch. He also has a best friend who never brings food with Louis’ allergens just so they can sit together at lunch every day.
Now, Louis is on his way to the eighth grade. He dreams of becoming a film score composer, and his future looks very bright. He is aware that food allergies may always be a part of his life, but he will not let his allergies hold him back. So, Louis has combined his food allergies and his musical talent to help other families. He has written and recorded his first piano piece titled, “Fulminare.” The song available on several digital platforms to raise money for food allergy awareness. The Martins timed the release with Food Allergy Awareness Week in May. They plan to donate the money to help families managing food allergies.
“I want to help food allergy organizations, because this would not only help me, but other kids like me.”
KFA is dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of food allergies through support, advocacy, education, and research. We help families better manage food allergies through our online support forums and educational resources, including handouts, online courses, and webinars. We also advocate for laws that protect children with food allergies and promote patient-centered research to improve their quality of life. Support from people like the Martins and you help us provide these programs and resources.
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