It was a frighhtening day for Marek and Ewelina Pyra when their baby son Ethan went into anaphylactic shock and now, eager to raise awareness of the dangers of food allergies, Marek is organising a ‘Mourne six peaks challenge’.
The aim of the event, which will take place on June 6, is to hike the six highest peaks of the Mourne Mountains in one day while raising funds for Allergy UK.
The Kinallen couple’s links with Allergy UK began six years ago after Ethan’s life-threatening experience at just seven months old. Weaning is a stressful time for any parent, but weaning Ethan had taken an unexpected turn.
“It was a very dramatic day,” said Marek. “We had just given him something with egg in it, when he went into anaphylactic shock. I thought he was going to die in my arms. He came out covered in a rash like nettle stings only 100 times worse and he was becoming shorter and shorter of breath.
“I put him straight into the car as I knew there was no time to wait on an ambulance and drove like crazy down the road to the Royal Victoria Hospital. There, after treatment, he immediately began to improve.”
Ethan has since had one other anaphylactic reaction.
Marek said: “The first reaction came from nowhere and we didn’t know what to do, but the second time round we already had the antihistamine syrup and EpiPen - things which we now carry with us at all times and the school also has an EpiPen.
“For a while after this we began to wonder what we would feed him. We had to change our diet a bit, but we both feel it’s so important to have charities such as Allergy UK to provide support and information on how to deal with situations like ours.
“It is still difficult but things are improving for us. As Ethan gets older he now knows to ask first if he can eat something, but birthday parties can be awkward and sometimes I can see in his eyes that he’s sad if he can’t eat something - such as a chocolate egg that he saw at Easter, but he seems to deal with it all right.”
The couple have also organised a raffle and coffe morning and were looking forward to the Funky Hair Day fundraiser at Fairhill Primary.
Marek, who is a keen hillwalker, already has a team behind him for the challenge with a friend and experienced climber agreeing to go at the back of the group to make sure everyone is all right and another friend who is a first-aider to look after everyone.
To get involved or make a donation see Marek’s facebook page ‘Mournes 6 peak challenge’.