The ex­per­tise and re­search de­vel­op­ments here in Toronto will ben­e­fit kids around the world.

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - News - By: Mary Litwin

The goal of the Sick­kids Food Al­lergy and Ana­phy­laxis Pro­gram is to cure or con­trol food al­lergy in ten years. I say, “Can we take off a few years? Let’s make it less than ten.” For me, this is per­sonal.

I’m a grand­mother of eleven. One of them, my grand­daugh­ter Alexan­dra, is al­ler­gic to tree nuts and se­same. I was with her the first time we re­al­ized she had an al­lergy. I saw it. She was two. We were in a restau­rant and we gave her a bread­stick. My daugh­ter, Sab­rina, Alexan­dra’s mother, and I are busy talk­ing – we’re hardly look­ing, be­cause Lex (that’s what I call her) was be­ing so cute and ter­rific.

But the bread­stick had se­same. And the next thing you know, her face and eyes were blow­ing up.we didn’t have a clue what it was, so we ran to the hos­pi­tal. I re­mem­ber how fright­ened my daugh­ter was – it was her first child. And I was too. It’s hard when you see your child suf­fer­ing be­cause her child is suf­fer­ing.

It felt like for­ever un­til the doc­tor could tell us what was wrong: she said,“it looks like it’s a food al­lergy of some sort.” My first thought was “Oh my God, Lex is go­ing to have to live with this.” That was ten years ago, in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Where are we to­day? I’m here in Toronto. My hus­band and I have five chil­dren be­tween us – in five dif­fer­ent cities. Alexan­dra now lives in London, UK. She’s 12. In her life­time, she’s had se­ri­ous re­ac­tions three times. She’s very bright, an amaz­ing young lady, if I do say so my­self (and I do – she’s my grand­daugh­ter). She’s so sure of her­self – she knows what to do in a restau­rant. She im­me­di­ately starts talk­ing to a waiter or wait­ress in her lit­tle English ac­cent, and the first thing she’ll say is “I have a nut al­lergy.”

When I be­came in­volved in the Sick­kids al­lergy progam, Alexan­dra was ex­cited. She wanted to know all about it. When she called, she asked “What did they say? Did you tell them about me?” I told her: “They know that I sup­port them be­cause of you.” It makes me feel con­nected to her, and hope­fully, it helps her see the im­por­tance of be­ing pro-ac­tive in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. (I think that’s the case: Alexan­dra and her younger sis­ter Vanessa will have their Bat Mitz­vahs to­gether. In hon­our of their Bat Mitz­vahs they will be mak­ing gifts to the Sick­kids Food Al­lergy and Ana­phy­laxis Pro­gram.). They could have cho­sen a char­ity in London, but know that the ex­per­tise and re­search de­vel­op­ments here in Toronto will ben­e­fit kids around the world one day soon.

My grand­daugh­ter may be in London, but I’m a grand­mother, and there’s a hos­pi­tal right here that’s do­ing some­thing. I want to feel that I am do­ing some­thing to help not just my grand­daugh­ter, but all our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

“I am do­ing some­thing to help not just my grand­daugh­ter, but all our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.”

That’s what I say to ev­ery­one in our com­mu­nity: we have world-class and won­der­ful doc­tors and re­searchers at Sick­kids, which is why I’m a donor here, even though my grandaugh­ter’s in London. If you have con­fi­dence in the hos­pi­tal you sup­port – that the re­search team and the doc­tors are do­ing the best work, and they’re go­ing to find some­thing – then be part of that. I have that con­fi­dence.

To dis­cuss a do­na­tion, call Ayala Beck at Sick­kids Foun­da­tion: 416-813-7800 or visit sick­kids­foun­da­tion.com

Mary and her grand­daugh­ter Alexan­dra.

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