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'I’m not taking no for an answer:’ Teen overcomes peanut allergy to join Marines

Christopher Ryan wants nothing more than to join the Marines. But his allergy to peanuts has already got him rejected twice.

A recruit endured six-months of therapy to overcome peanut allergies to join the Marines. Treatment worked. Still, he is not a Marine.

One peanut could kill Christopher Ryan, so it may seem nuts to see him shoving handfuls of salted peanuts into his mouth with his Bellaire allergist watching. He has one reason, though.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” Ryan said. “I was on top of the world. I was going to fulfill my dream. I was going to make a difference like I always wanted to. The next day I got disqualified.”

The former Kingwood Park High School linebacker, son of a South Houston traffic officer and Memorial Hermann nurse wants nothing more than becoming a Marine.

“Marines is where it’s at,” he said. “They bring that intensity to the table and I’m an intense person.”

At 17, Ryan convinced his parents to sign waivers to get him into the corps early with his buddies. The day before swear-in, though, Ryan’s phone rang. The Marines rejected him. Twice.

“I thought really,” he said. Over a peanut allergy? It’s that big of a deal?”

The concern is over Meals Ready to Eat or MRE’s containing peanuts causing allergic reactions.

While eating peanuts as a five-year-old, Ryan’s lips swelled. He did not eat peanuts again until he found an allergist able to treat the condition.

“(Ryan’s) basically cured in the sense that he can just eat,” Dr. Dat Tran, Ryan’s allergist said.

Dr. Tran said 6 months of therapy ingesting small doses of peanut protein solution put Ryan’s allergy to sleep. He provided proof in front of KHOU 11 News cameras. Dr. Tran fed Ryan 16 peanuts. He ate them without allergic reaction.

“(The 16 peanuts) is the equivalent (of) a peanut butter sandwich,” Dr. Tran said. “So can someone eat a peanut butter sandwich? If they can eat a peanut butter sandwich they should be fine.”

He and Ryan sent Marine recruiters paperwork explaining his condition. As long as Ryan eats a few peanuts a week, his allergy will be dormant, Dr. Tran said.

So, Ryan expects to be allowed in the Marine Corps.

“I’m not taking no for an answer,” Ryan said.