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 In 1953 a 14 years old girl cut her finger, whilst being treated at the local hospital she went into near fatal anaphylactic shock when given a skin test for a dose of tetanus antitoxin. Luckily she survived. Had she have been given a full dose of the tetanus injection, she may not have survived.

Her parents Dr Marion and Chrissie Collins were now more aware of their daughter's vulnerability in an emergency and would attach a note to her coat describing their daughter's allergies whenever she was away from home.

When she started university they decided that she needed something more permanent. So her parents designed a metal disc using a version of the healing arts symbol, the staff of Aesculapius, followed by the words‘MedicAlert' in red and a list of their daughter's allergies.

The staff of Aesculapius is an international recognised symbol denoting medical services being the centre part of what Paramedics call the Star of Life, displayed on our ambulances today.

In 1965 Lion Denis Gilchrist saw the potential for saving lives through support for MedicAlert when he introduced the charity to the UK, MedicAlert was recognised by Health Care Professionals as a quick and accurate source of patient relevant details for saving time in an acute emergency situation by providing information relating to the patients underlying medical conditions and therefore the potential to save lives.

What a great way for Lions to serve their community by helping MedicAlert to save the lives of those who suddenly become vulnerable through illness.

The Olivia Strange story shows just how relevant MedicAlert is today for children. Olivia is 5, and sufferers from severe allergies to peanuts and tomatoes. She has been a MedicAlert member since she was 18 months old. Her mother, Sofia, tells us about how they manage her allergies and create a safe environment for Olivia to enjoy her childhood. ‘Olivia reacted to half a peanut after previously consuming peanut butter with no issues. Getting a diagnosis was difficult and could only be established by a (very scary) food challenge in the hospital.' However this was not Olivia's first reaction to a food. At the age of 9 months, from a single pip landing on her cheek, Olivia had a severe allergic reaction to tomatoes. This allergy causes extensive issues for the family as tomatoes are not usually listed as an allergen on food packaging. The family now have to avoid any pre-packed food completely so they know exactly what is in every meal. When Olivia started day nursery Sofia decided to get her a MedicAlert bracelet as a visual reference, highlighting her allergies to the staff. Sofia also chose MedicAlert for the continued membership and 24/7 emergency line available.  "The fact that her notes can be updated as her conditions change is important. If anyone needed to find out about her conditions, and she was unable to communicate for herself, I am confident the professional looking after her would have access to the correct up to date information they require by calling the emergency number on her emblem". Allowing Olivia to live a more independent life is very important to Sofia, "It gives me the confidence to allow her to have a normal childhood. She goes to friends houses for tea or birthday parties and I know there is a virtual safety net".  Olivia is happy to wear the MedicAlert emblem and tells people "It's my special bracelet in case I'm poorly".  Sofia thinks this is partly down to Olivia being able to make the choice of which bracelet she wanted. "Don't choose it for your child, let them pick their own, then they will wear it" explains Sofia.  Sofia concluded "At the moment Olivia doesn't carry her own EpiPens. The responsibility to manage her allergies isn't hers, as her parents it's ours, and we introduce her gradually to managing it. We tell her everyone's special and we're all different but she might need some extra special looking after sometimes".

Now we all have the opportunity to support children like Olivia and continue the work of Lion Denis Gilchrist and the founder's of MedicAlert Dr Marion and Chrissie Collins as it started with protecting a child we as Lions can provide that same protection to hundreds of children across the Multiple District by supporting the Early Start Programme.

The Early Start Programme is sponsored by Lions Clubs it will provide a healthcare professional, worldwide with vital medical information 24/7 when they are treating a child at risk in an emergency for just £275, your club can provide a MedicAlter bracelet and worldwide cover for that child from birth to 10 years old.

By committing funds on an annual basis you could help to make this a sustainable programme ensuring that any child who needs MedicAlert protection continues receiving it regardless of financial status, giving a child the gift which goes on giving for a decade and provide peace of mind to both child and parent/guardian. Lions clubs can be assured that a donation to the ESP will only be used to support the programme, if a club wishes to nominate a specific child from their area, providing that the Lions cheque is received with the application, the money will be allocated directly to that child.

Donations from Lions Clubs to-date have reached £27,500. Enabling MedicAlert to support 118 children through the ESP.

Futher information regarding the Early Start Programme (ESP) can be obtained by contacting Iain Pudney.

MedicAlert ID bracelets, necklaces and watches help make sure that you receive fast, relevant treatment in an emergency. Worn on your pulse point, they carry the international medical symbol and are an effective way to communicate vital details... because every moment matters.

As well as financial assistance Lions clubs can serve in a practical way by ensuring that supplies of the MedicAlert leaflets and posters are available in local Doctors surgeries, Chemists and Libraries. These leaflets will also carry the Lions logo which will help to highlight the service activities we provide to the local community.

MedicAlert is a global charity that provides life saving services and trains emergency responders.

Contact Officer Iain Pudney E mail