Toddler with dairy allergy tragically dies at daycare from a grilled cheese sandwich

Elijah Silvera. Photo: screen shot.

It’s a tragic and heart breaking situation that is happening far too often.

New York City officials are investigating a school over the death of a boy who had a life-threatening dairy allergy.

Elijah Silvera was reportedly a happy toddler who attended pre-K at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem when tragedy struck. Little Elijah went into anaphylactic shock on Nov. 3 after being fed a grilled cheese sandwich. He was rushed to Harlem Hospital and later died when doctors couldn’t save him.

A Go-Fund Me page was set up to the help family where a friend wrote, “Elijah leaves behind his heartbroken mother Dina, father Thomas, and 5-year-old brother Sebastian.”

Debate has sparked over possible negligence by school officials who supposedly were aware of Elijah’s severe allergy.

A family member confirmed to Eyewitness News ABC 7 what another family member wrote on their Go Fund Me page: “…he was given a grilled cheese sandwich by an adult at the pre-K, despite them knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy,” the comment stated.

The following responses taken Facebook show an array of different reactions:


It so happens the writer of this article is the mother to a young boy who developed multiple life-threatening food allergies at five months old, including dairy.  I can say from heart wrenching experience that the reactions to Silvera’s tragic death have come a long way considering what I likely would have seen just eight years ago when our family had to come to grips with our unnerving circumstances.

Instead of demanding that children with severe allergies be isolated or made to stay at home (yes, I’ve heard this MANY times) the reaction to Elijah’s death was to seek solutions.

So, to break down the great points made above… yes, an epi pen should have been administered at the first signs of anaphylactic shock. None of the reports I found claimed that this was done, and that Elijah was rushed to the hospital without vital epinephrine.

An epi pen should be provided by parents if the school doesn’t have one. Many parents use medical bracelets has a precautionary measure as a commenter mentioned above.

Medical bracelets like the one my son has are important, but shouldn’t be solely relied upon to avoid dangerous food reactions.

Medical jewelry can help and should be used, but it isn’t fool proof. Long sleeves, busy parents who one day forget to attach it, and tots who turn into the Incredible Hulk in order to pry if off leave many a bracelet lost only God knows where.

As the first commenter noted, awareness to taking allergies seriously is key. Severe food allergies can be extremely deadly and reactions can happen quickly. True allergies are not the same as lactose intolerance or Celiac disease (people who get sick from eating gluten) as many still believe. Going the extra mile to make sure school teachers, administrators and classroom parents understand the nature of such severe reactions is absolutely crucial in protecting children.

Meanwhile, President Trump is in favor of jump starting the FDA approval process for new drugs, the Washington Examiner reported. For nearly a decade, people with food allergies (and many other ailments) have been told several promising solutions to preventing anaphylactic reactions are in process and should be available “soon.”

“There are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications,” Trump said during a campaign speech in Gettysburg, Pa., in October 2016.

Trump has a lot on his plate, but potential life-saving medications in waiting is on the minds of many.

As far as Elijah’s school, investigators will have to determine how he was able to get his hands on a grilled cheese sandwich. Whatever the reason, it won’t ease the pain and loss of a beautiful little boy taken much too soon.

Late Wednesday, the NYC Health Department released a statement to announce the school will close while they investigate:

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will get to the bottom of what happened here. In the meantime, we’re closing the Center for Family Services and continuing to aggressively investigate what happened and whether the facility could have done something differently to prevent this tragedy.”



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