Listen to Tad's story:
“Dr. Wood’s work has given kids and their families a chance to lead normal lives and not be afraid that a single bite of cookie or a morsel of cake will send them to the ER. That, to me, is medicine at its best.” – Tad’s mom, Stephanie
Eleven-year-old Tad has had an egg allergy most of his life. He was diagnosed on his first birthday, when, after eating a bite of cupcake, he got violently sick. Over the next six years, Tad religiously avoided any and all foods containing even the smallest trace of egg.
Then an opportunity came along.
Dr. Robert Wood of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center told Tad’s parents he was beginning a series of studies to treat and eliminate egg allergies in children with…EGGS!
Dr. Wood’s “egg therapy” involved giving patients increasingly higher doses of eggs in clinic, under observation. The approach, known as oral-immunotherapy, is designed to slowly retrain the immune system until it no longer reacts to the allergenic food.
Yet, treating egg allergies with eggs sounded not only counterintuitive, but risky, so for a while, Tad’s parents were on the fence about enrolling their son in the study. Maybe, they reasoned, Tad would outgrow the allergy, as some children do.
But by the time Tad was 6, things were looking less promising and his symptoms were getting worse, so finally his parents decided to give it a try. Tad was excited. He told his mother that if there was the slightest chance for him to get better, he wanted to be part of Dr. Wood’s research. The study involved a slow, gradual building of tolerance with progressively higher doses of egg, followed by a maintenance phase, during which children were required to consume eggs daily.
The “egg therapy,” of course, is something that should be never tried at home and only done under the strict supervision of a trained immunologist, Dr. Wood cautions.
Tad became one of Dr. Wood’s success stories. Today, he can eat products that contain eggs. In fact, to maintain his newly acquired tolerance, Tad makes sure he eats eggs at least twice a week.
The nagging fear of an accidental exposure is gone, a great psychological relief for all, says Tad’s mom, Stephanie Kuroda. And as an added benefit, Tad has gained a lot of confidence.
“Having food allergies can be a very socially isolating experience for a child,” Stephanie says. “This treatment has given Tad the chance to socialize more with other kids and to enjoy certain foods, but even more importantly, it’s given him confidence, independence and freedom. School events are different now, travel is different.”
When Tad was cleared to eat eggs, the first thing he asked for was a doughnut.
He and mom, Stephanie, went to Dunkin Donuts. For a long time, Tad stared at the display trays. Then he had his first doughnut—a chocolate frosted cake doughnut!
“We are so fortunate to have the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center so close because Hopkins is among only a handful of hospitals in the world where this is being done,” Stephanie says.
“Dr. Wood’s work has given kids and their families a chance to lead normal lives and not be afraid that a single bite of cookie or a morsel of cake will send them to the ER. That, to me, is medicine at its best,” she says.