Contact your Senator

August 21, 2006 at 8:04 pm (Allergy News!, social issues)

Readers, please contact your Senators about the National Anaphylaxis Prevention Bill.

Just visit this directory, look up your state, and write a short note explaining that you are from your state, you vote, and you support a bill to protect US Citizens from unneccessary deaths due to anaphylaxis.

If you are so moved, include a photo of your allergic family member, and share a personal story.  I promise you will get a letter back!




This is an email that I have sent to Senator Richard Shelby in Alabama. Please contact your U.S. Senator too!


—– Original Message —–
From: Laura Duke
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2006 4:14 PM
Subject: “National Anaphylaxis Prevention Bill” PLEASE SUPPORT!

Dear Senator Richard Shelby:

My name is Laura Duke and I grew up in Linden, Alabama. I live in Nashville, Tennessee at this time. My son, Brentson and I have recently in the last year and a half have developed a deadly anaphylaxis food allergy to peanuts and nuts. I had to take my son, Brentson who is 10 years old and in the 5th grade at this time out of the Metro Nashville Public School System due to his severe anaphylaxis peanut and nut allergy. He almost died at a Metro Nashville Public School on 09/12/2005 due to him unknowingly coming into contact with someone who had eaten peanut butter for breakfast 4 hour prior. Brentson’s peanut and nut allergy is airborne. After this incident I had no choice but to take Brentson out of the MNPS and start home schooling him due to his Pediatrician said, “if he returns to school in an environment that is not Peanut and Nut FREE, the risk to him is an IMMEDIATE DEATH!” MNPS said, that they did everything that they could to ask parents to try not to pack products with peanuts, peanut butter or nuts. However, MNPS said, they cannot make the school environment peanut or nut free and if children brought something to eat with peanuts, peanut butter or nuts they wouldn’t do anything to about it. MNPS told me that I was to put Brentson back in school against the orders of Brentson’s Pediatrician or they were going to come after me for Brentson being a truant. Therefore, I did not have any choice but to remove him from the Public School System. I lobbied and got “Brentson’s Law” passed in the state of Tennessee to make School Districts have to work with Health Care Providers to come to a middle ground and resolution to protect these children in all Tennessee schools. I have attached a copy of everything that we went through trying to get “Brentson’s Law” passed. Also I would like to ask you to please contact Senator Bill Frist and ask him to please draft the bill for the “National Anaphylaxis Prevention Bill” to help protect everyone out there in the United States with any kind of anaphylaxis food allergy.


Laura Duke
(615) 870-0370 Home
(615) 516-7538 Cell phone

This message is intended for delivery to the parties to whom it is addressed. Any other distribution is prohibited without the written consent of the sender. The sender reserves the right to pursue all legal means at their disposal to enforce their privacy.

Dear Senator Shelby:

I received an email from another Mother who has a child with a severe peanut allergy. This parent was telling me about Aquafresh Kids Toothpaste having trace amounts of peanuts in it. What alarmed me the most is what she told me next. That GlaxoSmithKline does not have to put any kind of “ALLERGY WARNING” on any product that isn’t food…? I called GlaxoSmithKline on Thursday 08/03/2006 and advised them of my concerns regarding the allegation of Aquafresh Kids Toothpaste being contaminated with some form of peanut or nut oil and this product not being properly labeled with an “Allergy Warning!” I was told that GlaxoSmithKline has received numerous phone calls regarding this issue and I was told that they tested all of the Aquafresh Toothpaste products and everything came out fine and did not show any trace amounts or contamination from peanuts. However, the lady I spoke with couldn’t promise me that the Aquafresh Kids Toothpaste wasn’t contaminated with some form of nuts and she told me that they aren’t promising that Aquafresh Kids is Peanut FREE either. This is scary and if there is a chance that a product could be contaminated with peanuts, nuts or other known allergens it should have an “ALLERGY WARNING” label! There should not be any exceptions for any companies regardless if the product is food or not! Companies should want to label their product especially if it could make someone extremely sick or kill them…? Brentson and I both are allergic to peanuts and nuts! What concerned me the most is that these companies aren’t regulated by the FDA to put an “Allergy Warning” label on their products due to these products are not food. There has got to be something done to make all companies put “Allergy Warning” labels on all products that might contain any and all known allergens. Regardless if the product is shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair spray, lotion, etc. Last weekend Brentson and I went to Walgreen’s and I found some lip gloss that had almond oil in it and an eyeliner pencil with peanut oil in it. This has made me start reading all of the ingredients, of every single product that we buy regardless if it is food or not. Our peanut and nut allergies are airborne. Therefore, we do not have to eat the product to go into anaphylactic shock. The key to living with a severe anaphylaxis allergy is strict avoidance, but if these companies are not informing the consumers that their product could contain known allergens, someone may die. I would like to ask if you would please contact Senator Bill Frist and ask him to please draft a bill and propose legislation under the “National Anaphylaxis Prevention Act” to help protect everyone in the United States from the normal daily products that you would have thought were safe, but they are not. I am hoping and praying that this will help save lives!

Laura Duke

**********Senator Shelby, This is my response from a State Senator here in Tennessee***********

My response from Senator Finney:

I am pleased that Senator Frist is considering legislation to enact a national anaphylaxis prevention bill in the Congress. The number of schoolchildren who are allergic to peanuts and other foods is frightening. I visit elementary schools in my “free time” to discuss legislation and civics. Many of the classroom doors are posted with a food allergy warning placard. These children are handicapped, to the extent that they must always have resuscitative materials (epinephrine, for example) immediately at hand. They are limited in their activities (no airline travel, no trips to the ball park, etc.).

There is no known way to de-sensitize anyone with this type of allergy. Seemingly trivial exposure to peanut “dust” could cause death within minutes.

While a federal school policy needs to be in place, there are other issues that should be addressed. Family members of allergic children have expressed concern to me about other issues, such as:

** The refusal of airlines to change to safe snacks. Airlines refuse to remove peanut snacks in exchange for a safer snack (pretzels). It is not acceptable just to avoid serving an allergic child a bag of peanuts. Someone opening a bag several rows away may send enough peanut “dust” into the air to precipitate anaphylaxis. No one wants to resuscitate a child with anaphylaxis, while in an airplane cabin at 30,000 feet and perhaps an hour away from a hospital.

** The refusal of manufacturers to disclose the presence of potentially dangerous oils or other products derived from peanuts or other foods in non-food items (cosmetics, tooth paste, etc.).

I urge Senator Frist to work toward a strict law to reduce the risk of school children from experiencing anaphylaxis in our schools. I further urge him to make the bill more comprehensive, though, and extend protection for persons with these life-threatening allergies to airline travel and labeling of non-food items. FAAN may assist in better definition of the components of a comprehensive bill. I believe FAAN can provide you with the statistics you seek.

If I may help you in any way, please contact me.

Respectfully yours,

Raymond Finney
State Senator
Eighth Senatorial District (Blount and Sevier Counties)

**********************Brentson’s Story***********************************

My son, Brentson Duke attended Taylor Stratton Elementary and was in the 4th grade. Over the summer of 2005 Brentson developed a severe allergic reaction to peanuts and peanut butter. His throat started to close up on him and he couldn’t breathe. At the beginning of the school year everyone was advised about Brentson’s allergy to peanuts and peanut butter products. Mrs. Tina in the Cafeteria, Nurse Cathy and Nurse Clare, F.N.P., and Brentson’s homeroom teacher, Mrs. Greene. On September 12, 2005 he went to school like every other day. However, when his class went to music that morning, Brent started having a severe headache. Brent thought he was just getting a headache, but actually he was starting to have an allergic anaphylactic reaction to something he unknowingly came in contact with in music. The music teacher advised Brent that he could put his head down, because he felt too bad to walk directly across the hall to the School Health Clinic. When he put his head down his throat started close up. (Evidently there was some peanut butter or peanut butter product on the desk or in the air in the music room.) When he was finally able to lift his head and looked up a little while later, the entire class had left music and he was the only person in the room. He walked out of the room and found the music teacher. The music teacher took Brentson to his homeroom teacher, who was still in the hall escorting her students back to the classroom. When Brentson’s teacher Mrs. Greene saw his face she immediately knew something was terribly wrong, and took him straight to the clinic. The School Nurse Cathy immediately thought Brentson was having an allergic reaction. Nurse Cathy asked Brent if “he had eaten anything with peanuts or peanut butter?” He advised, “NO”. I received a call around 10:30 a.m. on Monday 09/12/2005 from Nurse Cathy at the School Health Clinic. Nurse Cathy advised, that she thought Brentson might be having an “allergic reaction”. However, he had a severe headache and she wasn’t 100% certain. I told her that I was on my way to the school right then. When I arrived, Brentson looked bad! He told me he felt like his throat was closing up, like it did when he ate the peanut butter and had to go to the Emergency Room. I signed him out of school and called his pediatricians office immediately and told them I was bringing Brentson into the office. My son lost consciousness on the way to the doctor due to the loss of oxygen he was receiving due to the severe allergic reaction he had at school.After the doctors released Brentson, I contacted Nurse Cathy to advise her that Brent was having a severe allergic reaction and that he went into anaphylactic shock and almost died. I told her what the doctor stated that people with allergies to peanuts and peanut butter products can just breathe the smell of any peanut or peanut butter products and have an anaphylactic reaction.On that same day, Monday 09/12/2005 I tried to contact the principal of Taylor Stratton Elementary, but she was unavailable to speak with me. Therefore, I spoke to the Guidance Counselor at Taylor Stratton Elementary. I advised her of the situation and that I desperately needed her help, that my child almost died from being exposed to some form of peanuts or peanut butter products at school. Mrs. Sullivan advised that she would have to get back with me, due to she did not know how they would deal with this issue. I waited, waited and wait… I did not receive a call from the Principal or the Guidance Councilor. Therefore, on Thursday September 15, 2005 I wrote and then faxed them both a letter expressing my concerns and some suggestions. I still heard nothing… On Friday, September 16, 2005 I went to the school to pick up some more of my son’s assignments, and asked to speak to the Principal. When I did have a chance to speak to the Principal she stated, she did receive my letter, however, they could not restrict peanuts and peanut butter products from the school just because one child has an allergic reaction. I advised her that it was a severe anaphylactic reaction and he could have died! I advised her that if they cannot restrict it from the entire school, then I would like to have it restricted from his classroom. Nurse Sullivan, F.N.P. had drafted a letter with help from someone at the Metro School Board, requesting the children in Brentson’s classroom try not to bring peanuts or peanut butter products due to a child is severe allergy to them and it is life threatening. Nurse Clare, F.N.P. gave the letter to the Principal to ask her to approve it to be sent out to Brentson’s classmates. However, the Principal stated that she contacted the School Board Lawyers and they advised her that they cannot ask the parents not to send peanut butter or peanut butter products because one child has a severe allergic reaction. Mrs. Hayes stated that they would have complaints. So, I guess the Metro Nashville Board of Education and this Principal would rather have a dead child than a complaint…? I advised this Principal that I will not allow her or the Metro Nashville School Board to play “RUSSIAN ROULETTE” with my child. The Principal said, “he can eat in the clinic”. It wouldn’t matter because he would still be around children who could have eaten it at lunch or at break time.

The Metro School Board banned “hand sanitize” because “one child” had an allergic reaction. NOT A SEVERE ANAPHYLACTIC REACTION, JUST A REACTION. But my child almost dies, and MNPS and this Principal will not let a letter be sent out “requesting” that they not pack peanut butter products for their children due to this because there might be complaints! This infuriated me and I contacted the Metro School Board and the Media. Only after Brentson and I did a story with News Channel 2, with Heather Orne was anything done about this matter. Then this Principal agreed to send out letters to the children and parents requesting that they not pack peanut butter or peanut butter products. The school had educational classes to inform the teachers and children about deadly food allergies. Through my research with the School Nursing Program I have found out that there are a lot of children in Stratton and other Metro Nashville schools with peanut and other food allergies that are deadly, anaphylactic allergies. There wasn’t anything in place to protect children with anaphylaxis food allergies in the state of Tennessee. However, now there is “Brentson’s Law.” To help protect all children with all anaphylaxis food allergies through out the state.


Laura & Brentson Duke

***Regarding Incident of 10/27/2005***

Dear FAAN:

This is another example of why I was so determined to get legislation put in place to protect children with an anaphylactic reactions due to food allergies, this is where “Brentson’s Law” will come in hand. However, I am still going to fight, with a friend of mine in Pennsylvania, “Lara” to make sure there will be severe consequences for people who knowingly cause, try to induce or induce anaphylaxis in anyone! This is Brentson’s Story on October 27, 2005 the night the Principal made an attempt on his life and the other 5 children that attend that school too!

Taylor Stratton Elementary had a “Family Night Meeting” on Thursday, 10/27/05. Mr. Mitchell coordinated this event that included a hot dog dinner, Halloween treat bags for the children, and door prizes. Brentson and I didn’t make it to the meeting Thursday night at Stratton due to the way Mr. Mitchell, the Principal, and Assistant Principal handled this event. Brentson brought home a letter telling about this event on Friday, 10/21/05. I was concerned over the Halloween treat bags that were to be given out to the children due to Brentson’s peanut allergy. I spoke with Mr. Mitchell on Monday, 10/24/05 and advised him about Brentson and the other children at Stratton that have peanut allergies. (Mr. Mitchell just started working part-time at Stratton a few weeks ago.) He told me that since they did not request that parents bring candy without peanuts or peanut butter products in them, (even though Stratton is supposed to be “peanut free”), Mr. Mitchell said they would just give out the candy at the end of the program. Also, Mr. Mitchell said that Brentson and I could get him a sack of candy and leave before they started the door prizes. This still concerned me greatly, and I advised him of this. He said that they would tell the children not to open the candy until they got home. I advised Mr. Mitchell that telling a child not to open and eat candy is like telling a child not to open a present at Christmas. It isn’t going to work! Therefore, I spoke with the Assistant Principal, on Monday, 10/24/05 also. I advised her that Brentson and I would not be coming to the meeting on Thursday due to the fact they would more than likely have some candy with peanuts or peanut butter in it, and it would not be a safe environment for Brentson. I advised the Assistant Principal that the other parents of children with the peanut allergies need to be aware that there will possibly be candy at Stratton with some form of peanut butter product in it. Therefore, it wouldn’t be safe for their child either. The Assistant Principal assured me that they had already talked about this and that they would remove any candy with peanuts, peanut butter or anything that possibly could have been crossed contaminated with peanuts. Brentson wanted to go Thursday night, but we were running late. I received a call as we were about to walk out the door at 6:20 p.m. that they were handing out candy with peanuts and peanut butter products in them. Snickers and Peanut M & M’s, Reese’s, etc. I called the Assistant Principal on Friday morning, 10/28/05 and asked her what happened on Thursday night. She had told me that any candy with peanuts or peanut butter would be removed and not handed out. Mr. Mitchell said that it wouldn’t be handed out until the end of the meeting right before everyone left. Neither one of those things happened! The Assistant Principal said that the Principal of Stratton and Mr. Mitchell decided to give the children their candy with their hot dog. The Assistant Principal said that she didn’t see anyone eating candy. The parent that called me Thursday night advised there were adults and children eating candy. This was verified by more than one adult. I told the Assistant Principal that I didn’t have a problem not bringing Brentson–that isn’t the issue. However, I do have a problem with her and Mr. Mitchell telling me that they were going to handle it one way and then not doing what they said they were going to do. They compromised my child’s life by not doing what they said and at the very least I should have gotten a phone call after they changed their plans. If they were going to give out candy early and if they were going to give out candy with peanuts and peanut butter products that is fine, but don’t tell me one thing and do another! The Assistant Principal assured me that she was not going to let any of this candy be handed out and that I should bring Brentson. They are playing with my child’s life and they are acting like it’s no big deal! Well it is a big deal, a very big deal and you don’t play with a child’s life like that! If you invited a child to a school function and he/she was in a wheelchair and the parent comes to you tells you her concerns. You assure this parent that everything will be safe for her child to come to this school function. However, when they (mother and child) arrived at the event, the Principal has taken down the wheelchair ramp. The Principal didn’t bother to call to tell this parent that the wheelchair ramp was removed. This is called DISCRIMINATION!

Brentson and some other children that attend Taylor Stratton Elementary have a severe anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. The Principal and all of the staff know this because Brentson almost died at Taylor Stratton Elementary on 09/12/05, due to an anaphylactic reaction by him unknowingly coming into contact with peanuts or peanut butter in music class. I went to the Assistant Principal and the person over the event and advise them of my concerns. I was assured by both of them that it would be safe for my child at this school function and I should bring him. However, they decided not to do what they said to make it a safe environment for my child or the other children with anaphylactic reactions to peanuts to attend this school function. They don’t bother to call and advise me of the changed plans. Therefore, not showing any RESPECT for my child or the other children’s lives with anaphylactic reactions to peanuts! The USDA clearly states that a food allergy that results in an anaphylactic reaction is a “disability.” Therefore, they would have to accommodate Brentson and the other children with deadly food allergies. What they did on Thursday night, 10/27/05 was DISCRIMINATION!

The Principal at Taylor Stratton Elementary knew that her actions on 10/27/05 could have hurt or killed Brentson and the other 5 children that attend Taylor Stratton with anaphylaxis allergies to peanuts, peanut butter, and nuts. What she did that night is called “ATTEMPTED VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER!”

This is where “Lara’s Law” will come into effect to hold people accountable for knowingly putting other people with anaphylaxis food allergies in harms way by knowingly inducing or trying to induce anaphylaxis!


Laura Duke


This was sent to the Metro Nashville Board of Education and Principal Constance L. Hayes after “Brentson’s Law” was passed by the state of Tennessee to protect all children with anaphylaxis food allergies through out the state!

Dear Principal C.L. Hayes & Metro Nashville Board of Education:

June 20, 2006 the date “Brentson’s Law” became ”The Law” in  the state of Tennessee to protect “all children” with anaphylaxis food allergies. The same children that Metro Nashville Public Schools ”refused” to protect in September of 2005 following ”Brentson’s Duke’s” near death experience at Taylor Stratton Elementary!

Do any of you at the Board of Education &/or Principal C.L. Hayes remember what you were doing on 09/12/2005 around 10:00 am?

You probably don’t but let me refresh your memory. This is ”The Date & The Time” that I received a phone call telling me that my child was having an allergic reaction. This is “The Day” that my child and I will “Never” forget! This is “The Day” that my child almost lost his life due to a severe anaphylactic reaction that he had at Taylor Stratton Elementary by him unknowingly coming into contact with someone that had eaten peanut butter! Does 09/22/2005 ring a bell for any of you? Well, this is “The Day” that Principal C.L. Hayes finally returned my phone call from Monday 09/12/2005 when my child almost died at Taylor Stratton! Principal C.L. Hayes finally gets the time to return my phone call “Nine Business Days” after my child almost died in her care! However, she only returned my call after Dr. G. Patterson (with the Metro Nashville Public School System) made her and only after News Channel 2’s Heather Orne started calling the Board of Education! My mother taught me at an early age that an ounce of compassion goes a long way. Evidently, no one at the “Board of Education nor Principal C.L. Hayes” were taught this by their parents. Therefore, due to the lack of concern by the Board of Education for the welfare and well being of “all” of these children led me to the decision that something had to  be done!

What was done is “Brentson’s Law!”

June 20, 2006 the date “Brentson’s Law” became ”The Law” in  the state of Tennessee to protect “all children” with anaphylaxis food allergies. The same children that Metro Nashville Public Schools ”refused” to protect in September of 2005 following ”Brentson’s Duke’s” near death experience at Taylor Stratton Elementary!

I bet “You All” will remember “This Date!”


Laura Duke



  1. Senatorial responses « Allergy Alert Stuff said,

    […] I took up Laura’s challenge to contact our Senators about the National Anaphylaxis Prevention Bill.  The following are the responses I received: […]

  2. Donna said,


    I hope you and Brentson are not having too hard a time avoiding the allergens. My suggestion is to begin with the assumption that EVERYTHING is suspect until proven safe each time. We quit using commercial tooth care products due to allergens, toxins, and ever-changing ingredients. We use hydrogen peroxide and baking soda made into a little paste to brush with, on advice from a great-grandma who still had every healthy tooth in her head when she died. Our dentist says our teeth are fine.

    I don’t use packaged foods so it relieves the burden of scrutinizing the fine print each time, only to still be unsure if it’s safe. I always have to cook anyway, so it was just a matter of adapting to a different set of recipes with simpler, more natural foods.

    My daughter’s private school made a policy that the only candy treats allowed are hard candies from a published safe list, because one child was allergic to the chocolate in the Reese’s so even the smell made her sick. Some people complained but everyone else was compassionate, besides, no matter what kind of candy it is the kids usually like it just fine.

    I agree that any commonly known allergen should be listed on every consumer product, whether or not it’s food. My friend’s son can’t play with Play-doh or even be in the same room with it, so I understand a little bit how scary it is to have a child for whom a smell can be deadly. You just have to avoid everything, it seems. People think I am such a natural person, since I never wear make-up, but the truth is I am sick of itchy puffy eyes, swollen lips, etc. I don’t even waste my time on it anymore. I guess my point is that if you start off at a point of suspicion with manufactured products you save a lot of time and energy because you automatically lean toward things that are natural and more trustworthy. It takes a worry off your mind and for me, that helps.

  3. Linda Trautweiler said,

    Where can I find a copy of the National Anaphylaxis Bill and Brentson’s Law so that I can better understand both. I would like to pursue these in my state of FL. I am a mother of a 4 year old boy with a severe anaphylactic peanut allergy and am truly in fear of sending him to Kindergarten next year. I’d like to be proactive in protecting my son in the school systems. I’m so surprised by the lack of knowledge of peanut allergies and their severity in the school systems. Please send me any information that you think will be beneficial. Thanks, Linda

  4. Linda Trautweiler said,

    P.S. My e-mail address is

  5. EP Russell said,

    Wow! This has been eye-opening! I hope things are going smoother for you! It is wonderful to see someone being so proactive about this topic. I have been a teacher for nearly 20 years, with a horrible allergy (can cause anaphylaxis) to perfumes. Every year I struggle with this issue, and have even had students go so far as to stage a “perfume fight” in my classroom that nearly killed me (10 years ago). They said they were angry with me & thought I was making up the allergy! I declined to press charges, although the students were told they could be charged with attempted murder. I didn’t want to, because they were young & I didn’t want to “ruin their lives”. Even this past year I have had students constantly spraying perfume (or things like Axe & Tag) outside my classroom door – because they think it’s “funny to see the allergic reaction”. No one seems to be able to catch these kids. My school tells me that there is “nothing they can do” because I can come in contact with perfumes “anywhere”. I will be referring to Braxton’s Law the next time I have a problem with this. People don’t take allergies seriously, especially when they are to “common things” like peanuts & perfumes. You are so right when you said “a little compassion goes a long way”. Thank you for all you’ve done to help protect the students – I wish you the best! Liz

  6. EP Russell said,

    Of course, it would help if I got Brentson’s name right! Sorry!!

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