Witnesses share warning after girl dies biting into dessert at Camp Sacramento

Published On: Jul 31 2013 04:32:47 AM HST

Tears welled up in her eyes and her voice cracked as Linda Biles pointed to pictures of her niece lined up on a table in her sister's Carmichael home.

"Make sure to let everyone know she loved gymnastics," Biles said.

Biles said Natalie Giorgi, 13, died after biting into a dessert treat covered with a frosting that contained peanut butter.

Giorgi had a diagnosed peanut allergy, and her family was vigilant about avoiding peanuts, said family friends.

Giorgi was celebrating the end of an annual multifamily summertime camping trip to Camp Sacramento in El Dorado County last week.

"It was heartbreaking," said Kelly Brothers, a family friend who was part of a group of roughly six dozen friends camping together.

Brothers said Giorgi bit into a Rice Krispie treat that she didn't know had peanut butter frosting.

Within 20 minutes, the teenager was vomiting and falling into anaphylactic shock, even as her father injected her with three EpiPens.

EpiPens are used to treat an allergic reaction.

"Her dad was a doctor and he couldn't save her from one bite of a dessert. This is a lesson to all of us how serious these allergies are," said Brothers.

Dr. Travis Miller specializes in food allergies with the Capital Allergy and Respiratory Disease Center.

Miller said the number of peanut allergy incidents has tripled in the past decade.

"It's a tough question to answer why," Miller said. "But there are some theories, including that we dry roast peanuts in this country, versus boiling them like much of the rest of the world. The theory is that may create a more allergenic peanut."

Miller said immunotherapy, involving the use of peanuts to build a tolerance with affected persons, has shown some success, but remains controversial within the medical profession.

As for Brothers, who witnessed the girl's death, he said what he saw is proof no one should ever scoff when confronted with a separate peanut-free table in the school cafeteria or a request not to eat peanuts on an airplane.

"There were people who rolled their eyes, I'm sure, but no one ever said anything. I'm sure no one will ever do that again, because we now know what one bite of a peanut can do to a young girl," Brothers said.


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