Mom Warns About Food Allergies After 11-year-old Son Dies

Merril Debbs of West Palm Beach in Florida has warned parents about the dangers of food allergies among children after her 11-year old son Oakley died after he suffered a fatal reaction from eating a cake with nuts. Oakley was allergic to tree nut and peanut and also had asthma which proved to be a deadly combination for him.

The family had been celebrating Thanksgiving when the incident happened. Today said Oakley unknowingly ate a pound cake with a little walnut but the immediate effect was only a small lip blister which was treated with Benadryl.

"It went away," Debbs said. "Whatever was going on inside of him we had no knowledge of. He seemed fine. He went out to play with his cousins, took a shower and brushed his teeth." Oakley however, had stomach aches and started vomiting after 15 minutes. Unknown to them, Oakley's airways had closed barely an hour after he ate the nuts.

NBC26 said Oakley loved to play soccer and wanted to become a quarterback someday despite his allergies. None of them realized he would not live long to make that dream come true. The family, however, refused to mourn and has created the "Red Sneakers Foundation" in memory of Oakley since red sneakers were his favorite.

As the Foundation name suggests, the family encourages everyone to wear red sneakers to warn people on the dangers of nut allergies. While she has suffered a great loss, Debbs is bent on channeling her grief into something positive such as an awareness campaign about nut allergies. Through this advocacy, the family hopes to keep Oakley's memory alive.

Kids Health said most children have allergies and the most common food that can cause this is peanuts, which is unfortunate considering that most foods contain them. The allergic reaction occurs when something as harmless as a nut is mistaken by the immune system as harmless and then fights the invaders with antibodies that releases chemicals such as antihistamine.

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