The parents of a 13-year-old girl who died from an allergic reaction to peanuts spoke out on the dangers of the allergy.
Natalie Giorgi’s parents, Louis and Joanne, said their daughter’s reaction came on July 26 on a camping trip after the Carmichael, California, teen ate a Rice Krispie treat that was prepared with peanut products.
“We had been there before. We had eaten their Rice Krispie treats before. We had never had a problem before,” Louis said. Immediately after taking a bite of the dessert, the girl’s parents gave her Benadryl — something they’d done several times in the past in similar situations.
For several minutes, Natalie showed no signs of a reaction.
“I kept asking, 'are you OK?' She kept telling me she was fine, and she wanted to go back to dancing with her friends,” Joanne said. Suddenly, things took a turn. The teen began vomiting unexpectedly.
"It spiraled downhill out of control so quickly,” Louis said.
Louis, a physician, administered two EpiPens he had with him, followed by another obtained from the camp. When the epinephrine failed to stop the reaction, the concerned parents called 911. Emergency responders arrived, but were unable to save Natalie, reports The Sacramento Bee.
“She had been fine, and had been talking to us. This was a worst-case scenario. One of the last things she said was, 'I'm sorry, mom,'" her mother told KCRA.
The parents ultimately filed a lawsuit against the city of Sacramento, California, after their daughter’s death, maintaining that they informed the camp, Camp Sacramento, numerous times of the teen’s allergy.
“Obviously it’s something we find no joy in pursuing,” Louis said. “But it is consistent with our approach to accomplish the goal to help raise awareness of people, to pay attention to this and know it can be fatal. We need to take simple steps to protect all of our children. There can never be another Natalie. And there should never be another Natalie. It can be prevented.”
After their daughter’s death, the Giorgis began to speak out on the dangers of peanut allergies — in part to convince skeptical parents that food allergies are a real threat to children. They also founded The Natalie Giorgi Sunshine Foundation to advocate for peanut allergy awareness.
“We had denied our daughter birthday treats in the classrooms. We read every food label looking for peanuts. This is not helicopter parenting. This was us trying to keep our children alive,” Joanne said. “We hope that people start taking food allergies seriously. I think there is a misconception that food allergies are not real or not really serious.”
Joanne said she hopes her daughter’s story inspires parents to use caution and be prepared and aware of the potentially fatal outcome of an allergic reaction to food.
“Natalie loved doing things for other people, and I guess in a lot of ways, she is. I think Natalie would be the first to be like, 'Oh my gosh, I made a difference.'"