CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — After their 21-month-old son’s near-fatal allergy attack, a Cedar Park couple is raising awareness surrounding the dangers of food allergies in children — and paying thanks to the generosity of the greater Austin community.
Logan Caldwell is less than two years old, but already struggles with more food allergies than most encounter in a lifetime. His diagnosed allergies include wheat, egg and all tree nuts, paired with respiratory issues brought on by asthma.
After eating a corn tortilla that unknowingly had wheat in it in late July, Logan went into anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest, parents Cameron and Rebecca Caldwell said. He spent a total of five days in the hospital, including time intubated and on a ventilator.
“[Rebecca] gave him the epi-pen, and that seemed to have like, little to no reaction,” Cameron said. “When I walked in [to the hospital], they already gave him I think five epi-pens in total, and it wasn’t working. It was just getting worse and worse and worse.”
After his five-day stay, Logan has made a full recovery and sustained no long-term brain or heart damage from the anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest. But the Caldwells said the experience has opened their eyes to the severity of food allergies and the dangers they pose in young children.
Both Rebecca and Cameron cross-check all ingredients in Logan’s meals and snacks, as well as research ingredients online that look unfamiliar or they’re hesitant of. They also look for allergen-friendly alternatives for Logan to enjoy at birthday parties, daycare or other situations where he’ll be eating with others so he doesn’t feel excluded.
“It’s definitely a learning process for everybody. I know my family is wanting to get CPR certified now just because of what Logan went through, which is great,” Rebecca said. “We’ve given them our training so that they can learn and not be scared to use an epi-pen, and I think everybody — I think they need to teach it in school, honestly. Because you never know when you might be the one to help save somebody’s life.”
After exiting the hospital, the Caldwells also came home to even more good news: nearly $34,000 in funds raised by friends and loved ones to help cover the costs of Logan’s medical bills.
Started by family friends Jonathan and Kasey LaBorde, more than 600 people donated to the cause. Cameron and Jonathan work together at the Austin Police Department, with Jonathan showing up at the hospital to be there for the Caldwells immediately following Logan’s allergy attack.
“It was incredibly humbling to know that in your moment of need, there are people there for you, which you might not even know,” Cameron said. “You might not even realize, you just go through life and you’re just like, you know, you don’t think you’re that important or whatever. But it’s incredibly humbling to see how many people support you out of nowhere.”
The costs of allergy specialists, epi-pens and medical stays add up quickly. Rebecca and Cameron said having people from the Austin community ease that burden made a traumatizing experience all the more bearable.
“It was just people, friends, family, coworkers, people we didn’t even know, you know, it was just very humbling because we just didn’t expect it,” Rebecca said. “I truly believe that’s why he didn’t stay that long in the hospital, you know? It’s just all the support and all the prayers.”
For parents who are questioning whether their child has a food allergy, the Caldwells recommend always checking with a specialist and seeking a second opinion when needed. The Food Allergy Research & Education website also has resources on changes in company food products, trainings on how to use epi-pens and emergency care plans.
“Just trust your instincts, research, learn, educate yourself and for others as well,” Rebecca said.