Inside the Story: Peanut Doctor

(KUTV) It’s dinner time at the Hoyal home in West Jordan and it's pizza night, one of the kids favorites.

But there is one thing that is never on the menu for 12-year-old Abby and that is any food containing peanuts.

"I'm allergic to peanuts and tree nuts," said Abby as she sits around the table.

Abby is so allergic to peanuts that she says she's had two major episodes where her body shut down just by being exposed to peanut residue.

"Two minutes later I stopped breathing and two minutes later I was ambulanced to Intermountain Medical Center," said Abby.

On this night Abby is going to eat something she never thought possible. { }
"You're going to see me eat eight peanuts." she says.

Her mother cracks open the shells and places eight peanuts in a pill container marked with each day of the week.

"It's a miracle that this is even in our home,” said Abby’s mother Amy Hoyal.

“This is something I would never thought in our lifetime.”

With each crunch of the peanut, Abby's mom watches closely. { }

"Seven," Abby counts. "Eight"

As Abby eats the peanuts, there is no physical or harmful reaction.

"There's like no more worry," she says after eating the eight peanuts.

Abby is not alone. Every one of the kids in an allergy doctor’s waiting room in Davis County is being fed the very food product that could cause death.

"That very poison that would kill them becomes the very thing that now keeps them safe," said Dr. Douglas Jones, who is an immunologist and runs the Rocky Mountain Food Allergy Treatment Center in Layton.

At the center, dozens of chilldren are being treated to overcome their allergies to peanuts, milk, wheat and eggs.

"It's one of the greatest things I've ever done in medicine," said Jones, who says he's the only ones in the Intermountain West to do such a thing. "We take the peanut protein and we dilute it down where we have very, very minute amounts of that protein."

The doses are then increased weekly until eventually, like Abby, the kids are eating peanuts again.

"It takes special training, special expertise," said Jones. { }

Jones says do not try this at home. { }

"No, No don't try this at home,” he said. “It could be life-threatening."

Dr. Jones says it takes about three months to get one peanut back in their diet and about six months to get them eating a handful of peanuts.

"We can reconfigure their immune system so instead of a very disorganized response to their poison they get a more organized response that we are now controlling," said Jones.

Jones says other doctors do not do this kind of procedure because it is very difficult, time consuming and challenging.

For 12 year old Abby and her family, it's a new found freedom.

"It's such a relief to know that she is going to be free of this poison that she has," said Amy.

Dr. Jones has been doing this program now for about a year. He says he's had 16 kids graduate from his program and currently has 38 kids enrolled. His goal after the six months is to have these kids eating peanuts or other food items just like anyone else.

A food allergy seminar discussing this treatment is planned for Wednesday, September 17 and October 15 at the Doty Education Center at the

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray from 7 to 8 p.m.

For more information about the seminar, visit

By Dan Rascon

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcast Group).