Dietary restrictions are incredibly serious when it comes to allergies — even more so when a child is involved.
In a very tragic turn of events, what turned out to be a food distribution mistake by a Harlem area school became fatal accident for one 3-year-old boy.
According to CBS New York, Elijah Silvera was given a grilled cheese sandwich during his school day at Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services despite having a severe allergy to dairy. Silvera went into anaphylactic shock and died at a nearby hospital.
Silvera's parents say educators at the school knew of his allergy.
“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,” read a statement on a GoFundMe page from Silvera's family. “Elijah went into anaphylactic shock and was taken to the Pediatric ER at Harlem Hospital, where, tragically, they were unable to save him.”
The GoFundMe page raising funds for funeral and other mourning expenses has raised nearly $50,000 at the time of this posting.
Silvera's parents, Dina and Thomas, released a statement on the fundraising page thanking everyone for their outpouring of support.
"We also want to say that while we remain absolutely devastated over the loss of our sweet son Elijah, the outpouring of love from across the country has inspired us to ensure that his death did not happen in vain," read the statement. "As Elijah’s parents, 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."
“He was just a light — if you see him, he’s just a bright light,” said Ruben Porras, a relative of Silvera's. “He’s one of those kids that … he was one of those kids that when you walk in the room and saw him you just light up.”
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene made an official statement on Wednesday that it was “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.”
The school is conducting its own investigation as well, and the Administration for Children’s Services had held services to offer families alternative schooling/care options.
Our deepest condolences go out to the Silvera family.