Happ family to relocate to Utah

Family: Cameron and Melissa Happ are taking daughter Jess, 5, to Utah for allergy treatment. Picture: Christine Ansorge
Family: Cameron and Melissa Happ are taking daughter Jess, 5, to Utah for allergy treatment. Picture: Christine Ansorge

JESS Happ is a bright and bubbly five-year-old.

She loves horses and spending time with her friends at school.

Sadly, Jess’ numerous food allergies mean she is sometimes excluded from events such as birthday parties.

Her parents Melissa and Cameron Happ hope treatment at Rocky Mountain Allergy at Tanner Clinic in Utah will allow her to overcome her allergies.

The family is relocating to the US for treatment for nine months to a year.

Jess is allergic to dairy, eggs, kiwi, peanuts and treenuts.

She has had anaphylactic reactions and her parents have to be extremely vigilant.

“It’s so hard,” Mrs Happ said.

"She was allergic to dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts and treenuts. The dairy free bread has soy in it and the egg free bread has soy in it, which made it really hard.”

Thankfully, Jess has grown out of her soy allergy, but the others remain.

Jess has contact reactions to some allergens, making visits to restaurants and other food outlets risky.

“We were told there is no treatment and she’s basically got the allergies for life,” Mr Happ said.

After being given this diagnosis, Mrs Happ started researching treatment options.

“I started looking all around the world and found OIT (Oral Immunotherapy),” she said.

This involves regular administration of microscopic amounts of allergens.

The couple said it was an easy decision to decide to give the treatment a try.

They have heard great success stories and hope Jess will become one of them.

Jess will be home-schooled while the couple temporarily relocate to the US.

“Initially we will do challenges to see what her tolerance is,” Mrs Happ said.

“We will go in weekly and they will start dosing. Then we will go home and she will have to have the same amount at the same time every day.”

Jess will not be allowed to exercise for two hours after taking the small dose of the allergen. “After a week if she goes well they will elevate that,” Mrs Happ said.

The couple will live in the US on a medical visa while Jess undergoes treatment.

Their hope is that Jess can enjoy every day occasions like children’s birthday parties without fear of a reaction when they return home to Warrnambool. Mrs Happ has set up a Facebook page Jessie’s OIT Journey to update friends and family on progress and raise awareness about allergies.

“There are a lot of families battling food allergies and there is not a lot of support,” she said.

Jess is looking forward to the family’s overseas adventure.