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After Tragedy Hit, This Family Wants You To Know What To Do During Allergic Reactions

DECEMBER 7, 2016  —  By Sarah Jewel  
Sarah Jewel

Sarah Jewel

Animal and pizza lover with an Internet addiction. Nerd to the max. Currently residing in the land of beautiful winters.

Even the most careful kids can sometimes consume foods they're allergic to.

Sadly, that's just what happened when Oakley Debbs took a bite out of a pound cake recently. Oakley had a tree nut and peanut allergy, and his parents say he was usually very careful about checking labels. This time, however, he was hungry and tired and ate before looking.

"He thought it was just a piece of cake. But when he ate it, he came over and said it might have contained nuts," Oakley's mother told Allergic Living.

She gave him Benadryl, which at first seemed to help the hive that had formed on his lip.

Soon, he began having chest pains. He vomited, and his mother administered another round of Benadryl.

He was having trouble breathing, so the family called 9-1-1. Two doses of epinephrine did not help his condition, though, and he passed away in the hospital shortly afterward.

Even though this family has experienced intense tragedy, they want to make sure others know how to care for a child having an allergic reaction.

Oakley's mother didn't know that Benadryl is not the recommended medication during an allergic reaction. Instead, an Epi-Pen is always preferred.

Read More: This Is Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, And It's An Absolutely Terrifying Disease

Based on Oakley's love of red sneakers, the Red Sneaker Foundation now aims to warn parents and promote Epi-Pen use during anaphylaxis.

They also have a Facebook page, Red Sneakers for Oakley, where people are encouraged to post pictures of the shoes in his memory.

"This child of mine, he was a rock star," his father said. "He was a good, good kid. And always in my heart of hearts, I knew that he would make a difference in his life—I just didn't know it would be after he passed away. So that's a big part of my driving force—the legacy of Oakley."


If you or someone you know has a food allergy, make sure you read all labels and have epinephrine ready in case an allergic reaction occurs. Being prepared is one way to honor Oakley's memory.

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