Another tragic loss to Peanut Allergy

13 year old girl dies after ingesting Peanut Butter treat.

I have copied an article below on the tragedy or you can watch the video here:

The Story:  

It was supposed to be the last day of a family vacation at a popular summer camp, but it ended in tragedy for one Sacramento-area family when a loved one had a fatal allergic reaction.  Relatives say 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi died from a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter while she was attending Camp Sacramento off Highway 50 in El Dorado County.
Now, the family says it really wants to get the message out about how dangerous and deadly food allergies can be.
Giorgi was very careful about what she ate and always made sure her food did not have nuts, according to family and friends.  But she had unknowingly eaten a Rice Krispies-type snack made with peanut butter.  On Friday night, the final night of camp, there was entertainment and refreshments. A dessert tray was put out in a dark area of the camp.
Giorgi reached for a treat and took a bite out of it. She knew something wasn't right, spit it out and told her mother, who also tasted the treat.  They later realized it contained peanut butter.

Natalie felt fine for about 20 minutes, but then began vomiting, had trouble breathing and went into cardiac arrest.

3 epinephrine pens were used but they could not help save the girl, according to a family friend.
Giorgi was taken to the hospital by ambulance where she was pronounced dead.  Family and friends are coming to terms with Giorgi's sudden death.
"She took every care. She knew the situation, that's (connected to) the allergy she had. And they were really on it all the time," said Pastor Michael Kiernan of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Carmichael.  A special vigil was held at the church for Giorgi Sunday evening.   Some say they'll remember her smile and laughter. Others will remember how much she loved to draw and how much she loved her friends.  Her family said Giorgi wanted to become a neonatologist, to care for premature babies like her and her twin sister.
Meanwhile, family members extended their gratitude to the paramedics, firefighters and everyone who tried to help save Natalie.
They offered the following written statement:
"While our hearts are breaking over the tragic loss of our beautiful daughter Natalie, it is our hope that others can learn from this and realize that nut and food allergies are life threatening. Caution and care for those inflicted should always be supported and taken."
An allergist said food allergies and nut allergies have tripled in the past decade. He says more people need to understand the dangers of food allergies and that they can sometimes be fatal.
By Suzanne Phan,

My Thoughts:

I am so saddened by the news of the 13 year old dying at camp - it is exhausting trying to be strong and keep a cool head when other parents in my community make comments like "that mom needs to lighten up" or a nurse who tells the other parents my daughter isn't at risk when their children pack her allergens for lunch at school- I try to live a normal life and not be afraid but then you read a story like this and are reminded there is no margin for error - we must keep our daughter safe and avoid her allergens. Heartbreaking.

The take-aways from this for me are:

  • NEVER eat food that you haven't prepared and brought yourself (you know the old saying "Dance with the one who brought you" ?  Well I apply that to social situations when dealing with food allergies -only eat the stuff you brought! 
  • Administer epinephrine IMMEDIATELY upon accidental ingestion of a known allergen -do not wait for symptoms.
  • Research other medications to have on hand?  There have been a lot of comments in regards to this article and I have been told that other families carry more than epinephrine but this has never been recommended or offered to my family.  I intend to research the alternatives and will report back to you on what I find.
  • EDUCATE FOR EMPATHY -some of the comments that have been posted in response to this article show a lack of empathy -very saddening comments such as "Why should I deprive my grandchild of peanut butter when she loves it?" etc.  We need to continue to share these stories so that the non-allergic public understands how deadly food allergies can be.

What do you think? 

Lights, Camera, Allergies!

Lights, Camera, Allergies!

Allergies & Asthma at the Movies

I took my 2 kids and one of my son's friends to the movies on Saturday night -that's right -one adult -3 kids…what could possibly go wrong? ha ha

My daughter who is severely allergic to dairy, peanuts and treenuts (anaphylactic) often gets snuffy at the movies -we wipe the seat down but in this particular theatre the seats were cloth not vinyl or plastic so not very wipe-able. We buy her safe treats or bring our own from home. Half way through the movie she started to complain that she felt like she was going to vomit ("puke" in 6 year old terms) and that her throat felt funny. Instant worry and anxiety -could she be having a reaction to the traces of unsafe ingredients in the theatre???

We went to the bathroom -missing a good portion of the movie -to make sure she was o.k. While in there, I could hear a woman in another stall retching and making sounds like she was vomiting! When we came out of the stall, the woman was at the sink, washing her face. I asked her if she was o.k. and she said she thought she was having an asthma attack and that she forgot her puffers at home. She said that all of a sudden while in the movie with her 3 kids, she couldn't breathe. She went to the bathroom (which I told her she shouldn't do!! -Don't want to be alone in case of an emergency! but that's what people do b/c they are embarrassed and feeling sick right?)… She was itching her ear and grabbing her throat and hacking.

 I asked her if it was possible that this was an allergic reaction rather than asthma and she said yes. I asked her if she had her epi-pen and she said she had left that at home also. All of a sudden I felt a worry that I might have to use the epipens I had to help this woman and what if my daughter got worse and I didn't have enough?!

 What a stressful situation! I asked her if I could call for medical help but she said no. She was feeling ok and wanted to wait for her children. I asked her to please wait outside in the lobby where there were many other people so that if she had a problem someone could help her. She was gone when I came back out so I hope she was o.k. I worried about her the whole rest of the movie. My daughter was fine and I suspect she was bored rather than actually having problems. Ahhhhh what an UNENJOYABLE night at the movies! Next time I will rent one!!!

What experiences have you had with allergies or asthma at the movies?

Severe Allergy & Anaphylaxis Support -Locally & Virtually!

You are not Alone!

This is the message that most of us need to hear most.  I get frequent emails from allergy moms and dads who find my website and read my story and exclaim, "I'm so happy to know that I am not alone!".   Having severe allergies & anaphylaxis in the family can make individuals and their caregivers feel isolated.  This is not easy -there is definitely an emotional toll and REAL PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS that comes along with this diagnosis.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to share the support that is available to you -locally and virtually!   This is merely a starting point.  I would be THRILLED if all of you can comment below this article  and share your favourite resources -LOCAL TO YOU and Online!   Thank you!!!

LOCAL TO ME (& Hopefully Many of You!):

Last month we had our first meeting of the NEW SEVERE ALLERGY & ANAPHYLAXIS SUPPORT GROUP in Halton Region at the beautiful Clarity Centre in Oakville.  I hope to see everyone back again at the next meeting and some new faces too!   Please join us for an evening of support, discussion and sharing.  The focus for this next meeting will be on Group Counseling for Anaphylaxis:  To help with the Psychological Stress which may include:
  • Trauma of having experienced a reaction
  • Anxiety about the risk of a future reaction
  • Feelings of Depression or Isolation
  • Stress and Emotional Distress

Highlights from the June Meeting:

Our first meeting was a success!  The feedback I received from those in attendance was positive.  Here are some comments from those in attendance:

"Thank you so much for bringing our allergy group together.  I really enjoyed the meeting and I appreciate your efforts in bringing us together to support one another.  I realised as the meeting progressed that this is exactly what I need.  I've prided myself in holding it all together, gathering information, and putting together a plan of action.  But all along, I think the emotional support, from others in the same situation, is the part that has been missing for me.  It's very hard for many people to truly identify with the unique challenges we face in raising our children with life-threatening food allergies.  Like you, I left a job that had once been so meaningful but meeting the needs of my son was not possible for me if I continued to work.   My son has other health issues; however the food allergies are, by far, the most concerning.   Dealing with a potentially life-threatening condition is quite daunting, and having this acknowledged this evening, really helped me.   I felt like my feelings were validated.  As a family, we really try to live our lives focusing on the positives, and being thankful for all that we have, but the day-to-day task (and stress/fear) can really take a toll.  I hope the group will continue.  Thank you so much!"

"I would just like to say Thank you for organizing the meeting last night. I think personally it was a good turn out for a first meeting! I would love to see more of those meetings in my future."

"...thank you again for the support group, we are so glad that we attended! I was wondering if it was possible to get the links to the websites that you posted during the slide show? Also, I was wondering if anyone wanted to share contact info? I would love to get together with some of the ladies and their kids for playdates :)"

**To answer the question there about connecting, I am encouraging everyone to use The Allergy Mom Facebook page for this purpose.  See more information below under Virtual Support.


I just want to take the opportunity again to thank Sweets from the Earth for their generous donation of cookies for our first meeting!

Door Prizes:  Michelle Nel Chow, Allergy Mama & author of To be a Nut or Not and Leslie Berlin, Allergy Mom & Author of OK 4 Me 2 Eat were both kind enough to offer copies of their books as door prizes for our meeting!  I have not yet drawn the names for the books and will do so at the July Meeting.   The names from those in attendance at our June meeting have been collected and we will draw for this prize at the beginning of our July meeting!  Good luck!!  What a sweet prize!!

Other Local Canadian Support Groups:

  • Mississauga Anaphylaxis Support Group:  Mississauga, Ontario
             Contact Penny Anderson:
  • Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Grop:  Toronto, Ontario
             Contact Sarah at
  • Other Canadian Support Groups can be found on Anaphylaxis Canada's website here
***If we have missed yours, please add your support group information to the comments section below the blog post to let us know!  U.S. support groups too please!

Worth Considering:

  • Counseling & Therapy Services -I offer counseling and support services in my local area for individuals and families.   These services include home visits to help you make your home safer, support for newly diagnosed, counseling on how to advocate and educate for "reasonable risk reduction" and "educating for empathy".  I also offer therapy for dealing with the psychological stress.  For more information visit:  I work with clients locally and via skype.  If you are suffering from stress, anxiety, trauma, depression or other related psychological distress, please contact me for more information.

Virtual Support:

Here are some links for support on the internet or via skype.  Even if you are not local, there is support for you!  I know that this list is only touching the surface of what's out there but here are a few of my favourite online support sites.  Please add your faves to the comments section of the blog to share!  Thank you!
Both of these are my websites -The Allergy Mom started as a support website for parents of allergic children but has grown to provide information and support for individuals and their families.  Allergy Safety Training is the website I have created to advertise the training services I provide.  I work with Peel Region to educate daycare and preschool providers on Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergy Safety Training through the Raising the Bar program.  I offer training to individuals, families, educational facilities, recreation centre staff, hospitals and anyone interested in making the world safer for those with severe allergies and anaphylaxis.  If you would like a training for your family or child's school, please contact me.

I encourage you to use the facebook page for connecting with each other.  There were many requests at the support group to create a page for the members but if it works for everyone, I would love to see the existing Facebook page for THE ALLERGY MOM used for this purpose.  This is a great way to connect with each other, share stories, VENT!, share news articles, offer services or tell about good ones, etc...  If you are cool sharing on that page I think that would be best as it will benefit all of those who like the page to see this information also!  Thank you!
A website for support -sharing of discussions, news stories, videos, polls - a community driven website -membership is free.  This is a great place to post questions, share stories, and meet other people who deal with similar allergies, eczema, asthma and anaphylaxis.
This is a great new website recently launched by Anaphylaxis Canada to provide support for those newly diagnosed.
I love this course -it is informative, educational and comprehensive and free!   This is a wonderful way to educate grandparents and babysitters on how to keep your allergic child safe while they are watching them.

I would also like to offer the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative (CAI) Website as a contact for Debbie Bruce -Debbie is the winner of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee award for her work advocating and educating others on Allergies & Anaphylaxis.  The CAI is working hard to implement their action plan for making Canada safer for those with severe allergies and anaphylaxis.  Check out their site and find out how you can help them!

That's enough for now!   Please let me know if you can (and I hope you will!) join me for the upcoming meeting in Oakville, Ontario on July 29th!   Thank you!