My heart breaks for the Stafford Family. I am both touched and grateful to Kellie Travers-Stafford who has been so brave in opening up and sharing her story about the tragic death of her daughter Alexi from a peanut allergy. This story hits close to home for many and is a horrific reminder of our reality and the worst nightmare for any parent and/or child living with food allergies.
I have been struggling with the many negative reactions, shaming and blaming that so many feel compelled to post regarding the tragic death of Alexi. Because of these types of posts, I decided years ago to be selective when engaging in conversation to educate others on food allergies. To those who have typed anything but condolences for this family, here is what I want you to know.
Yes, every tragic food allergy death could have potentially been avoided somehow some way. They are ACCIDENTAL, and that is what makes this disease so challenging on so many levels. Alexi’s death was a tragic accident and speaking as a mother of two teens with life-threatening food allergies, who are extremely vigilant (as it sounds like Alexi was), this could have easily been my children.
We eat Chips Ahoy. They have been a “standby” staple cookie in my family for years. Yes, we train on reading every label every time, but these kids are teens, and if they grew up for years with one cookie out of the hundreds on a grocery store shelf that was safe, they may just have let their guard down for a moment, never thinking that their trusted product had changed.
This is a tragic accident and the worst nightmare of any parent and/or child living with food allergies. There are approximately 200 deaths per year from food allergies. I feel confident in saying that 99.9% of these were accidental. We live our entire life working to eliminate risk, ask the right questions, read labels, avoid products that may contain, educate on the dangers of food allergies, carry an Epi-pen and remove those incapable of understanding right along with high-risk foods and restaurants from our lives, but still, accidents happen.
I’m sure you teach your children life skills and hope that they make smart and safe decisions. One day even with all of your best parenting efforts, your child may be involved in an accident. Accident as defined by Merriam-Webster “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance” and like many accidents, yes it’s possible it could have been avoided. My hope is that you never have to experience someone putting the blame on you and your child on how this tragic turn of events could have been avoided. I can pretty much guarantee if you do, it won’t be the parent of a child with food allergies!