Thanksgiving is a holiday associated with family, good food, and gratefulness. But for the Debbs household, the festivities turned into a nightmare when Oakley Debbs, aged 11, made a decision that took his life.
The Deebs family decided to order in a Thanksgiving dinner basket for themselves to eat.
This was so they wouldn’t need to spend as much time on meal prep and could go up to Maine for their vacation with less hassle.
The food basket was full of delicious treats, the most interesting of which was a large pound cake meant for dessert.
No one paid much attention to it, as the turkey was being prepared and was much more exciting at the moment. But Oakley, curious, decided to give it a try.
Oakley has a mild allergy to tree nuts and peanuts as well as asthma, so when he took a piece of pound cake, he carefully perused it. It didn’t seem to have any nuts, so he ate it.
But in a few minutes, he felt a sensation he recognized immediately: an allergic reaction.
Oakley told his mom, named Merrill, about what he’d done. They checked the list of ingredients and saw that walnuts were used.
Merrill gave Oakley a Benadryl, and his symptoms immediately disappeared, along with the one hive on his face.
Then, just before bed, Oakley went into Merrill’s room and told her he felt sick again. All of a sudden, he began to experience severe anaphylactic symptoms. He started to throw up and have trouble breathing.
Merrill called 911, and an ambulance arrived in 10 minutes. By that time, Oakley’s face was blue.
His anaphylaxis worsened. First responders quickly gave him two shots in a row of epinephrine, and Oakley was rushed to the hospital.
But sadly, they were not able to save him. After four days spent fighting desperately to stay alive, Oakley passed away in the hospital.
Merrill regrets her decision to use a Benadryl instead of the EpiPen they have at home. Her decision was made based on the supposed mildness of Oakley’s allergic reaction to the cake.
However, since her son has passed away, she dug a little deeper and did some research that shows that EpiPens are better used sooner than later.
As of now, medical experts have yet to discover what causes delayed allergic reactions such as Oakley’s – but this is the reason using an EpiPen sooner rather than later is so crucial.
The Debbs family, however, has been adamant in ensuring that everyone in the family does not take the blame for Oakley’s passing.
Instead, the family penned a touching statement penned in the form of an open letter from Oakley, as though he was writing from heaven.
The note thanked his family for trying their best to help him, and encouraged his family to love, be happy and at peace, and to love life.
Since then, Merrill has founded Red Sneakers, an organization dedicated to the education of others regarding food allergies and their dangers.
You can check the website out here.