An 11-year-old boy named Oakley died on November 24th after consuming what he thought was a plain piece of pound cake that turned out to have a walnut inside. Oakley’s mother, Merrill Debbs, has spoken out about the incident, expressing her feelings about the importance of knowledge towards food allergies.
Merrill Debbs speaks of the tragic death of Oakley, saying that the only signs of an allergic reaction were a small blister on his lip that went away after taking a Benadryl. Debbs went on to say that after the blister had gone away, they thought Oakley was fine and ‘Whatever was going on inside of him we had no knowledge of.’ He went to the room he was sharing with his cousins.
After acting and breathing normally for around fifteen minutes, Oakley returned to his mother complaining of a sore stomach and began vomiting. Debbs presumed whatever was making him ill would go away, giving him some more Benadryl. He began to feel better.
However, a short while later he began feeling ill once more, with his breathing beginning to worsen; “He started throwing up, and from there it was a tornado of issues,” Debbs said. “We called 911. By the time the ambulance got there — about 10 minutes later— he was blue.”
An hour and a half after consuming the nut Oakley’s heart stopped, and his airways closed, causing a heart attack. He was taken to hospital swiftly in an ambulance but unfortunately died not long later.
After the death of Oakley, Merrill Debbs decided to take action to raise more awareness of the importance of food allergies. She launched The Red Sneaker Foundation to raise awareness and to bring light upon Oakley’s death, keeping the memory of him alive.