The recent death of a 19-year-old Michigan college student stemming from a severe peanut allergy, is now serving as a frightening reminder to parents of kids with food allergies.
Chandler Swink, an Oakland University sophomore and aspiring nursing student, was taken off life support on Wednesday night after spending more than a week in a coma.
Swink had visited a friend’s apartment where peanut butter cookies had been baked and the young man either came into contact with the cookies or the residue on someone else’s hands.
When he started having a reaction, Chandler injected himself with an EpiPen and drove himself to a nearby hospital, where he was found unconscious in the parking lot after simultaneously going into anaphylactic shock and experiencing an asthma attack and cardiac arrest.
Now his family is speaking out to raise awareness about the severity of nut allergies.
His father Bill said, “You need to take your family members’ food allergies very seriously. [During holiday season] you don’t need to add almonds or pecans to the food you bring.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that four to six percent of children have food allergies, the prevalence of which increased by 18 percent between 1997 and 2007.
Chandler had had a level-six nut allergy — the most severe — since the age of two, which had led to ridicule and bullying by his peers, according to his mother Nancy. The school district made itself “peanut free” just for him, but that made other parents resentful. “They would say, ‘It can’t be that bad,’” Nancy recalled.
Despite the stigma of Chandler’s allergies, his mom said, “he never complained to us. He held that in for 18 years. When he went to college, he was the happiest kid because he was no longer labeled.”