Jess Park-Davies (pictured with her mother Helen), who was banned from the school trip
A 15-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis has been ‘barred’ from going on a once-in-a-lifetime school trip to Iceland because she needs to inject herself with insulin.
Jess Park-Davies, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, was due to fly to Reykjavik for a five-day tour taking in the country’s glaciers and volcanoes.
But just a week beforehand, her parents claim King Edward VI School cancelled her ticket and said she could not go.
She needs a nightly insulin injection for cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, which she was diagnosed with in October 2016.
The family had agreed with school staff that Jess would self-administer her nightly insulin, despite a fear of needles, for a trial period to see if she would be able to do it on the trip from July 2.
Her mother Helen emailed the school on June 25 to say the night before the deadline that Jess could inject herself and – as a specialist nurse – considered her daughter now competent.
But one day later, Jess’s parents were told she could not go.
Jess’s mother Helen Park-Davies, with whom she is pictured, said the situation was ‘so unfair’
Ms Park-Davies said: ‘This is so unfair. Jess is heartbroken, she was looking forward to going on this school trip and is devastated all her friends have gone without her.
‘She has been crying since she heard the news. It is terrible.’
Jess, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, has been crying since she found out, her mother said
Despite a meeting with the school and reassurances from her daughter’s specialist cystic fibrosis and diabetes nurse as well as an email from her consultant, she claims the school still refused to allow the disappointed teenager to join her friends.
Ms Park-Davies said: ‘The teachers on the trip did not want to have to give Jess any medicine whatsoever and said that, due to her age, it would be her responsibility, not theirs.
‘I totally understand that, but when we did all we could to prove it would be safe, they still refused.
‘This has been awful for Jess and while she has missed her trip I want to make sure that they learn from this and don’t do this to any other child who suffers with cystic fibrosis or any other invisible illness.’
The family have made a complaint of discrimination to King Edward VI School in Lichfield
What is cystic fibrosis-related diabetes?
Cystic fibrosis is an incurable genetic disease that affects around 70,000 people worldwide.
A defective gene causes a build-up of mucus in the airwaves, making it increasingly difficult to breathe over time.
Mucus also blocks the natural release of digestive enzymes, meaning the body does not break down food as it should.
While healthy people cough naturally, that does not happen for people with CF.
Eventually, lung function depletes to the point that sufferers will need a double lung transplant to survive.
Thousands of sufferers will go on to develop diabetes, as the build-up of mucus can prevent the pancreas from working properly.
Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes is most often treated with insulin, a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels.
The mother said health professionals informed the school that Jess’s insulin was taken to help her in the long term and she would not need hospital treatment if she did not take it during the five-day trip.
But she claims the school had already cancelled Jess’s ticket on June 25 – and she was unaware of this. The family have since made an official complaint to the school on the grounds of discrimination.
But headmistress Jane Rutherford said: ‘This has been a complex situation and while I wouldn’t discuss circumstances of individual pupils, the safety and wellbeing of all of our pupils and staff, both in school and on organised trips, is always our number one priority.’
Now the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has called for teachers to receive training on the condition.
Dr Keith Brownlee, director of impact for the charity, said: ‘It is very upsetting to hear that Jess was told at the last minute that she was being left behind while all her friends went on a school trip.
‘It seems that the school have disregarded medical guidance on cystic fibrosis and need cystic fibrosis related training provided by their employers.
‘There is no reason for a school to treat children with cystic fibrosis differently from other pupils.’