11-year-old's death serves as wake-up call to the dangers of food allergies

11-year-old's death serves as wake-up call to the dangers of food allergies

Oakley Debbs was just like any other 11-year-old boy. However, his life was tragically cut short due to complications from a nut allergy.

The death of 11-year-old Oakley Debbs serves as a reminder for parents about the dangers of food allergies, and that not all allergies have an immediate reaction. In Oakley's case, it took a while before the fatal allergic reaction manifested itself.

It happened because of a cake that had nuts in it

During the day before Thanksgiving, Oakley ate some pound cake that had walnuts in it. Once he realized this, he told his mother, Merrill, about it. Oakley's only allergic reaction was a blister on his lip which went away once his mother gave him Benadryl, a remedy which used to always work in the past.

After taking the Benadryl, Oakley felt fine and even went to play with his cousins and his twin sister. But late in the evening, he started feeling sick and started to vomit. A few minutes after, he started to have a hard time breathing.

“He was blue,” Oakley's mother shares. “He was unconscious. My husband was holding him. He basically was gone.” Sadly, Oakley passed away four days later in the hospital.

Red sneakers

According to Oakley's parents, they always felt that their son's asthma was the bigger concern. His father, Robert, shares, "There was always an asthma plan. We didn’t really have a defined nut-plan which we’re finding out needs to be really defined."

Because of Oakley's untimely death, his parents felt the need to raise awareness about food allergies so that other families won't have to go through their tragic loss. They started the Red Sneakers Foundation, named after Oakley's favorite shoes. Their aim is to raise money so that they can educate and spread awareness about food allergies.

They also want food labels on products that contain nuts and similar allergens to be clear and large so that parents and kids will immediately see that the product contains nuts. Robert adds,  "If someone wrote, ‘Contains nuts, may kill you,” like cigarettes or something, people would understand it."

You can visit their website if you wish to donate or learn more about the foundation.

Do you know what to do in case of an allergic reaction?

Allergic reactions can range from minor to more serious ones which can be life threatening, such as in Oakley's case. That's why as parents, it's important to know not only what causes an allergic reaction in your child, but also what you should do in case of an allergic reaction.

Here are some tips that you should always keep in mind:

  • Have your family tested for food allergies. The first thing would be to know if anyone in your family has specific allergies. The only way to find out would be to have your family tested for allergies.
  • Know the signs of an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions come in different forms; they usually manifest as hives or itchy red bumps on the skin, they can also manifest through abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, and in some cases, lightheadedness or even fainting.
  • Know what ingredients are in your food. If you or one of your loved ones tests positive for a food allergy, you have to be careful of what types of food they eat. Make sure to read the ingredients on the labels of processed foods, and if you're eating at a restaurant, ask about the ingredients of the food they serve.
  • Always keep antihistamine handy. In the event that your child accidentally eats food that they're allergic to, you always need to have antihistamine ready so that the allergic reaction will subside. You also need to give them antihistamine that they can bring with them to school.
  • Talk to your doctor to know more. The best way of learning how to manage an allergy would be to talk to your doctor. They can help you devise a plan of action in order to manage your family's allergies better. Knowing more about allergies can help you better protect your family.


Sources: Scary MommyToday, Kids Health

Got a parenting concern? Read articles or ask away and get instant answers on our app. Download theAsianparent Community on iOS or Android now!

Written by

Alwyn Batara

app info
get app banner