Father’s kiss nearly fatal for allergy boy

EVERY day little Ben Brown gets up and prepares for battle.

For the four-year-old lives in a place where he is constantly assaulted by the world around him – where even a kiss from his daddy could kill.

His life is a medical minefield where the grass under his feet, the dust around a picture frame, a petal on the breeze have to be treated as delicately as unexploded bombs.

Simply walking past a horse could see him rushed to hospital under a blue light such is the acute sensitivity to the many allergies that narrow his horizons.

Now his mother Toni Brown, 31, a customer and dealer supervisor at Great Yarmouth’s Grosvenor Casino, wants to raise awareness about allergies and money for ground-breaking desensitisation treatment to stop him developing any more.

She hopes treatment can take place in the next few months at Gorleston’s James Paget Hospital, where it is available but not currently funded.

Adding to the urgency is the possibility that some of the allergies have now gone internal, affecting his digestion and causing bowel problems.

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With the check list of allergies growing all the time and reactions becoming more severe Mrs Brown is desperate to stop it becoming as acute as her 33-year-old sister’s, for whom there is just 30 seconds between life and death if she has a reaction. Her problems have increased since childhood to the point where she can barely get out of bed some days.

“The treatment needs to be started two months before the summer season. If we leave it until it becomes too severe we won’t be able to do anything about it in the future. I am cross the treatment is not funded but I am happy to raise the money because it is for my son.”

Ben goes to school part-time, and along with his book bag and PE kit has to take a host of creams, inhalers, medicines and adrenaline injector pens with him wherever he goes.

He has reactions every day, sometimes serious ones, and needs to change his clothes frequently to make sure he is allergen-free.

Aside from his numerous allergies including most animals, all pollen, all grass, eggs and nuts, the family faces a constant battle keeping his asthma and eczema under control – with one thing triggering another in a constant cycle.

Ben, who lives with his parents and baby sister Lucy in Lowestoft, was born apparently normal. Apart from a milk allergy Mrs Brown and engineer husband Richard were not aware of any problems until around two years ago when a peanut allergy was revealed by a kiss.

“My husband had eaten some peanut butter on toast,” she said. “We were in the car ready to go out separately, he had washed his hands and cleaned his teeth then given Ben a goodbye kiss. Within seconds his face had blown up. Fortunately that morning I had given him a little Piriton to help his hay fever and doctors said that saved his life. After that we found he was allergic to so many things.”

Mrs Brown is hoping to raise between �3,000 and �6,000 to treat the most pressing allergies to grass and house dust mites. The fundraising kicked off last Saturday with a super hero event at the Grosvenor Casino, which raised around �600 including the proceeds from a raffle organised by Dale Gordon’s Extreme Makeover team.

The next event is on Saturday, February 26, when a party night will feature head shaves and body waxing. On March 18-19 an exercise bike will be installed at the casino and pedalled 24/7. The programme continues on March 28 with a poker challenge culminating in a dinner and dance on April 2.

Businessess have donated a raft of raffle prizes but more will be needed. Mrs Brown added she was delighted that staff and managers at Grosvenor were keen to help. Mrs Brown has already been handed �500 from the Blue Boar Inn in Lowestoft, donated instead of putting crackers on the tables at Christmas. She also thanked Picture Studios for their contribution providing a photograph of Ben and numerous raffle prizes.

l To find out more call the Grosvenor Casino on Great Yarmouth seafront on 01493 850444.