SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio doctor is cracking open peanut allergies. It’s a protocol that’s been available in Houston and Dallas and is now changing lives locally.
The process takes six months and a lifetime of maintenance, but in return, the patients are able to live their life freely.
When it’s time for lunch, the choices for 11-year-old Tristan are limitless now. A peanut butter and honey sandwich instead of killing him would now be a good choice.
“I can have the candies I like. I can freely eat what I want, and I can know I’m safe and I’m not going to have a reaction,” Tristan said.
Tristan is undergoing oral immunotherapy, a six-month weekly process that forced his body to develop what it needs to fight off allergic reactions.
The necessity to avoid a peanut butter sandwich or read the labels on food products was just a small part of the problem. Tristan’s family was deeply affected.
“We were deathly afraid we were going to get that phone call in the middle of the night, saying 'I don't know what's going on with your son. He's not breathing,’” said Brian Albritton, Tristan’s father.
Tristan was limited when traveling. He wasn’t able to go to sleepovers or even on unaccompanied bike rides.
"Once we were done, it was just like gosh. It was like we had just won the lottery. Seriously,” said Katie Albritton, Tristan’s mother.
Today there’s no fear, as long as Tristan takes in a small amount of peanuts a day for the rest of his life.
"If he eats a peanut butter sandwich a day for lunch or a Snickers bar, that's the equivalent, so he's gotten peanut in. We just never want to him to go a day without,” allergist Dr. Patricia Gomez Dinger said.
Dinger said it’s a lifelong commitment, but it’s a game-changer that finally frees families from fear.
"It's been life changing hearing that the siblings are eating peanut butter for the very first time, or that there's peanuts in the household for the very first time, and they can go on vacation and they can go out to eat at any restaurant. So (it’s) completely changing the family dynamic,” Dinger said.
Dinger said parents considering the treatment need to know that while it works, during the first six month, the patients will run the risk of a severe reaction. That’s why the treatment is customized for each patient as they go through the process.
The treatment has been so successful that Dinger’s office is adding a protocol for milk allergies soon.