Natalie Giorgi

Parents warn of peanut allergy after death of daughter at Camp Sacramento

Published: Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 - 11:30 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013 - 6:11 am

Parents of a Carmichael girl who believe their daughter died from a reaction to a treat that contained peanuts at Camp Sacramento are warning about the dangers of food allergies.

The girl, Natalie Giorgi, 13, was at the camp in the El Dorado National Forest along Highway 50 on Friday with her family. It was the final night of the family camp and the girl was in the lodge for a gathering.

Lights were dimmed and snacks were provided, including three kinds of Rice Krispies snacks. Augusta Brothers, a family friend, said that Natalie tasted one that was iced with a creamy spread.

"She immediately knew that it wasn't right, spit it out and went to tell her mom that something had peanuts on it," said Brothers, who was also at the camp.

Her mother sampled the treat, as did Brothers, who confirmed it tasted of peanuts. Natalie was monitored by her parents for 20 minutes and showed no symptoms. Then she vomited one time and had a shortness of breath.

Her father then administered an EpiPen, an injection device used to deliver epinephrine, and gave her oxygen.

Brothers said Natalie then suffered anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest.

Her father, Dr. Louis Giorgi, valiantly fought to save her as she struggled to breathe, said a statement from the family. The statement from the physician and his wife, Joanne, continued:

"While our hearts are breaking over the tragic loss of our beautiful daughter Natalie, it is our hope that others can learn from this and realize that nut and food allergies are life-threatening. Caution and care for those inflicted should always be supported and taken."

Brothers said the family was aware that Natalie and her twin sister share an allergy to peanuts and were exceedingly careful about what both children ate. Natalie also was diligent in making sure what she ate was nut free.

Camp Sacramento, located along Highway 50 in the Eldorado National Forest, is on a 14-acre property owned by the U.S. Forest Service and leased by the City of Sacramento.

A vigil service was held Sunday night at Our Lady of Assumption Church in Carmichael for Natalie, who would have gone into eighth grade next year at the parish school. Her parents attended the vigil.

Brothers said it is very important to the parents that the message be conveyed about the severity and the dangers of peanuts to allergic people.

"Establishments can't be putting these things out," said Brothers. "You can't trust the children to know better. It should never, never have happened."

Allergic reaction to food can range from mild to sudden and severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include hives, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, vomiting, loss of consciousness and swelling of the tongue and throat.

Anaphylaxis, which can result in death, is a quick, severe allergic reaction that causes difficulty breathing and swelling of the throat and tongue, according to the CDC.

The pastor of Our Lady of Assumption Church, the Rev. Michael Kiernan, said that a rosary will be recited and a Mass said for the girl. Dates for the services have not been determined.

"They are a delightful family, the core of our parish and school," said Kiernan "There has been a huge outpouring of love and support."

Natalie loved drawing and reading, Disneyland and spending time with family and friends. She had hoped to become a neonatologist and care for premature babies like she and her sister were at birth.

She is survived by her parents, sisters Danielle and Catherine and brother Michael.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Follow him on Twitter @Lindelofnews.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the sensitivity of this story, comments have been turned off.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof



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