Knoxville family wants teachers trained to give life-saving shot

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Imagine your child has a life-threatening medical condition and you have to send that child to a place every day, where there’s a chance he or she might not be able to get life-saving medication in an emergency.

That’s what a Knoxville family faces when their son goes to school and they want to see change. The Adzima family is taking their campaign to the state legislature in Nashville later this week.

Landon Adzima, 16, has Addison’s disease, with which he was diagnosed at age six. It’s a form of adrenal insufficiency. His body isn’t able to produce enough cortisol which is critical in keeping the body balanced. Addison’s disease is rare and life-threatening.

“It was a relief to finally know something, but it was also a shock,” said Landon’s mom Lora Joy Adzima.

This time last year, after a wrestling match, Landon’s body went into crisis.

Landon Adzima
Landon Adzima

“Knowing that my child is dying pretty much before my eyes is extremely scary,” said Lora Joy Adzima.

“Every crisis I’ve had has kind of been different and scenarios have been different, but I can usually feel my body going downhill and I get this sense like I need the shot,” said Landon.

The shot requires the cortisol mixture which comes in a vial and a syringe. The Adzimas are going to Nashville this week to share their story with lawmakers in the hopes House Bill 121 is passed. The bill outlines that teachers and staff, in every Tennessee school, be trained on giving this emergency injection of cortisol to others with adrenal insufficiency.

Read the bill: House Bill 121 administration of medications for adrenal insufficiency

“The first thing you should do when they’re in crisis is give them this injection because death can occur within 30 minutes,” said Lora Joy Adzima.

“I thought this was an opportunity because there are other children across the state of Tennessee that have this and we needed to have awareness,” said State Sen. Richard Briggs.

If this bill is approved, training would be voluntary.

“We want them to know that even though this is a rare disease and might not effect a lot of people in the state of Tennessee, that the people that it does effect, it counts,” added Lora Joy Adzima.

Even though Landon packs his medication along with his books, emergencies are hard to plan for.

“My parents want to make sure I’m safe and they don’t want anything to happen to me,” said Landon.

Knox County Schools policy outlines that students cannot give themselves medication, but the district says in cases with students requiring long-term treatment, there’s a nurse on campus full-time and that nurse also attends a student’s extracurricular activities.

Knox County Education Association President Lauren Hopson says that teachers care deeply about the well-being of all their students, but she says the classroom isn’t an appropriate or safe place for medical procedures.

“Dispensing medicine needs to be done by trained medical professionals. Our students would be better served if the legislature would fully fund desperately needed full-time medical professionals in every school,” said Hopson.

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