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Lunch was proceeding as usual in the gym of the Our Lady of Lourdes School in Queens Village on the rainy afternoon of Sept. 28. Children were eating, laughing and playing and the eighth-grade lunch monitors were watching over everyone.
But one of the monitors, Makira Samlal, 13, of Cambria Heights noticed that a first-grade boy, Gerrick, was sitting alone.
She walked over to him and discovered hives surrounding his mouth, an apparent allergic reaction to something he had been in contact with.
Makira alerted an adult to Gerrick’s condition and the nurse was summoned for assistance. The nurse confirmed he was likely having an allergic reaction to a food and promptly delivered an injection from an EpiPen Auto-Injector to stave off possible serious effects from such hypersensitivity .
The 6-year-old was whisked to the hospital, where he was given more medication and then sent home to his family, having been saved from serious harm by the keen, compassionate eye of Makira.
“Marika is our hero. She saved the day,” said Christine Thornhill, a fourth-grade teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes, which offers nursery through eighth-grade education. “She was the only one that noticed. No one else saw it.”
The culprit? Peanuts.
Gerrick had a similar reaction once before when his father made a nut sauce containing peanuts, so he recognized once the hives appeared that he was probably experiencing a reaction to the popular legume.
But this time Gerrick did not even have to eat any peanuts to have a breakout. He says he was simply sitting too near a friend who was enjoying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“I was touching my face and I felt stuff. It felt like little pimples,” he said. “In class my mouth was just itchy around, and there were no hives until I got to lunch.”
As a result of the incident, the school has set up a “peanut table” where people with the allergy can sit and not have to worry about being near the culprit.
Samlal said she is glad she noticed something was wrong with Gerrick before the reaction had intensified. An allergic reaction to peanuts can cause fatal anaphylactic shock.
“I felt good afterward,” said Makira, who wants to be a doctor or a dancer. “Just a certain number of kids are monitors. I have a lot of little brothers and sisters so I just wanted to watch over the kids.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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