Holiday Treat Kills Beautiful Teenaged Girl

January 3, 2006 at 3:36 pm (Allergy News!, social issues)

From the Edmonton Sun:

Deadly Holiday Treat

Teen Suffers Severe Allergic Reation – taken off life support

By ELIZA BARLOW, EDMONTON SUN

The death of a 13-year-old Edmonton girl from a severe allergic reaction two days after Christmas is a tragic reminder of how quickly allergies can kill, says an injury prevention advocate.

An allergic reaction is “a true medical emergency. Seconds count,” said Dr. Louis Francescutti, an emergency room doctor in Edmonton.

“Sometimes there’s not much anyone can do, unless they get to medical care right away. So don’t drive them to the hospital yourself. It’s a true 911 call.”

Chantelle Yambao, a student at Father Michael Troy Junior High School, had lived with a peanut allergy virtually since birth, her aunt Julieta Yambao told the Sun yesterday.

On Dec. 23, the teen ate a sweet treat that triggered a severe allergic reaction. Four days later, Chantelle’s heartbroken family made the decision to remove her from life- support in hospital, said Julieta.

“The doctors said her brain was not working any more and her heart was not working any- more.”

Chantelle’s parents, her extended family and her many friends are utterly devastated by the loss of the pretty teen, said Julieta.

“They are crying and crying because they lost their only daughter. She was their angel.”

A spokesman for Edmonton Catholic Schools couldn’t say yesterday whether any memorial service is planned for Chantelle after students return to school from Christmas holidays next week.

Francescutti wasn’t familiar with Chantelle’s case. But he called for greater public awareness about the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions.

“It usually feels like an instant cold coming on,” he said. Victims’ noses start to run, their airways start to close up and their faces may start to balloon. They may also experience a shortness of breath.

“It’s something that’s got to be taken very seriously because people can actually die from this. If people know they have these allergies they should wear a MedicAlert bracelet and keep several EpiPens around,” said Francescutti.

EpiPens deliver an instant shot of adrenaline to combat the anaphylactic shock that results when severe allergies are triggered.

Allergies have varying degrees of severity, but peanut allergies are usually the worst, said Francescutti.

“I’m very saddened that a girl has had to lose her life like this.”

Chantelle’s parents were too distraught to speak with the Sun yesterday.

According to the non-profit group Anaphylaxis Canada, about 2% of Canadians are living with a potentially life-threatening allergy.

The group claims the incidence of severe allergies has increased dramatically in the last decade.

 

Submitted by Erin.  Thanks, Erin. 

It’s important to remember that in the US, FAAN estimates 150-200 people a year die from severe allergic reactions (known as anaphylaxis).  That means about one person in the US dies from this every other day, perhaps more often than that.  Please don’t think that these recent deaths in Canada are unique, or that anaphylaxis is rare–it is not.

The news is doing a service by reporting these deaths–I say it is a service, because it raises awareness in a time when people often use anaphylaxis as a punchline.  I am sure the families of these children do not see these deaths as funny, nor do the parents & families of that 2% of Canadians, and 4-6% of American children under age 6 estimated to have similar allergies.  I’m describing millions of people to whom the imminent risk of death from eating food is not funny at all.

Please take this allergy seriously.  If forwarding this article to your children’s teacher, classmates, classmates’ parents, etc. will help, please do so.

And remember, for each of these recently-reported deaths, there have been several that have gone unreported, though I’m sure the family members, friends, sweethearts, neighbors, etc. that were lost are not going unmourned.

Allergy Alert Gear from Allergyware.com, by an allergy mom, Leslea Harmon.  There might be something there that might help get the message across.  I’ve got 37 cafepress stores dedicated to allergy wear and allergy alert gear, so there should be about 400 different products there–surely one of them will help you spread the word about your food or other serious allergy.

Do NOT feed this child!

Scroll down or look to the right for info about the Allergy News Podcast.

Be safe.

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