Little Elijah Silvera, just three years old, died last week because someone misunderstood his well-documented allergy. That person was more dangerous to Elijah than the cheese sandwich he was fed, because were it not for that person’s actions, Elijah, too young to speak up for himself, wouldn’t have eaten it.
The most dangerous thing about food allergies isn’t the food – it’s misunderstanding them.
Allergies can trigger a life or death situation that only those who understand them can truly make an effort to prevent. Tragically for Elijah, that didn't include someone at the Seventh Avenue Centre for Family Services in Harlem, who fed him a grilled cheese sandwich, despite his known condition. Mistakes happen, but when it's literally someone's job prevent them from happening when small children are fed, is 'human error' a good enough justification?
Allergic reactions need immediate attention, but Elijah's carers called his mother, not an ambulance. It's unclear whether an EpiPen was available for use, but we do know that protocol wasn't followed. A series of mistakes were made. And now there's a dead child, and a heartbroken family. On the GoFundMe page set up by a family friend, Elijah's parents, Dina and Thomas, have said:
"We will use our voices to draw attention to *completely preventable* life-threatening allergic reactions in U.S. daycares and schools. These preventable tragedies must come to an end."