COPLEY, Ohio (WJW)– A peanut allergy diagnosed 10 years ago nearly kept a four-sport athlete from playing football for one of the nation’s service academies until his family decided they had nothing to lose by having him tested again.
Landon Robinson lettered in football, baseball, wrestling and track at Copley High School. His offers to play football at the collegiate level started coming in before his senior season.
“I think my last offer was Navy. Navy was my biggest offer and I was super proud about that,” Landon said.
The only obstacle was an allergy to peanuts that was diagnosed 10 years ago when he was 7.
Landon said his father suffers from the most severe peanut allergy. When he was first tested, his results also came back positive so he has never eaten anything with peanuts.
“At the Naval Academy, everybody eats together. And when you are actually in the Navy, they give you these packages where everybody has to eat so if you can eat peanuts and they have peanuts on the meal for that day and you can’t eat,” Landon said.
“If you have a peanut allergy or any type of other food allergy, it really inhibits your ability to get into an academy of any kind.”
“It was heartbreaking. Landon got the phone call before I did and when I saw his reaction and saw how impactful it was,” said Patrice, his mother.
With nothing to lose, his mother decided to have him re-tested.
“That’s the only thing I knew I could do was to go through the process again, have him re-tested and just put it all-out there if it came back positive, we would walk away,” she told Fox 8 News.
The test was conducted at Akron Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Rajeev Kishore said a skin test showed a slight positive, so they decided to advance to a second phase.
Kishore said the second phase was also positive, but they decided to look even closer at the results. Within the results, the doctor said they discovered that a component of the test that returned the positive result appeared to be one that did not inhibit the teen from advancing to a third part of the test in which he is challenged by actually eating peanut butter in a controlled environment.
“We start with a small amount of that given food and every f15 minutes or so you are given a larger amount,” Kishore said.
“I started off with a little bit of peanut butter on a spoon and I was real scared about it. I had never eaten peanuts in my life before, so it was something I wasn’t ready for, but I had to do it in order to get to the Naval Academy,” Landon said.
“I ate it and I didn’t have a reaction, waited 15 minutes, gave me a little bit more, wait 15 minutes, gave me a little bit more, and I’m like OK, alright. No reaction here, this might be good.”
Eventually, he graduated through six different steps until he was able to eat a spoon full of peanut butter with no reaction.
“We then considered him non-allergic to peanut and he could add peanut to his diet,” Kishore said.
Kishore said peanut allergies have grown over the past 20 years to become among the most prevalent allergies among children. About 2 percent of all children are diagnosed with a peanut allergy, though not all are severe.
Landon, who now voraciously eats Uncrustables and peanut butter, said he believes he outgrew the allergy.
His mother said he believes science has advanced to a point where doctors can get more specific about what is causing the reaction. She said, from her son’s outcome, she believes there are others who were diagnosed with a peanut allergy years ago and may find out they can eat peanuts after all.
“I think Landon’s story tells a lot. Number one, it tells the story of perseverance, never giving up and until it’s the very, very last option you fight until there’s no other way you can go,” she said.
“We were able to undo the diagnosis of peanut allergy, relieve a lot of anxiety from the family and more importantly, he was able to meet his goal of joining the Naval Academy,” Kishore said.