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'Allergies here can get bad really fast': How pollen put a Eugene girl in the ICU

Mia, 4, spent four days in the ICU at Portland’s OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital after an asthma attack triggered by grass pollen in Eugene this June. (Family photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - Nina Watkins faced every parent's nightmare June 2.

"It was a routine checkup and I really really thought that we would just be getting another medication that day," Nina recalled of a visit to the pediatrician's office for her daughter's asthma.

But Nina's 4-year-old daughter Mia went from the pediatrician’s office to being directly admitted to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.

Before they knew it, Mia was on a helicopter bound for a Portland hospital.

The culprit: An allergy induced asthma attack.

"Pollen allergies are probably our most common trigger here," Mia's pediatrician, Dr. Tamara Barstow, said.

Grass pollen routinely lands Eugene atop Pollen.com's list of the worst cities for allergy sufferers each June.

And on June 2, levels of grass pollen had spiked from the moderate reading that morning to the very high concentration recorded the next morning.

By June 5, the grass pollen count had hit 757 - nearly four times the 200 level that marks the start of the very high category.

Mia spent four days in the ICU at Portland’s OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Now the family is sharing their story.

"We just thought this is a great opportunity to really talk to people and let them know allergies here can get bad really fast," said Nina.


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