Louis and Joanne Giorgi sat together in the backyard of their Carmichael home Wednesday morning. They held each others’ hands and clutched tissues as they spoke publicly for the first time since their 13-year old daughter died from an allergic reaction to a dessert treat they had no idea contained peanuts.
“To have lost her is devastating,” Joanne Giorgi told KCRA 3′s Mike TeSelle.
KCRA Channel 3 reports Natalie Giorgi’s parents are speaking publicly in hopes of using their daughter’s death as a push for change, and a vehicle for educating the public about the seriousness of food allergies.
“This can be a catalyst for a paradigm shift, much the way seat belt use has changed since when we were kids,” Louis Giorgi said.
Natalie Giorgi died July 26 after eating a Rice Krispie treat that had been prepared with peanut products at Camp Sacramento on the final day of a multi-family camping trip, her parents said.
Giorgi had a documented allergy to peanuts.
“We had been there before. We had eaten their Rice Krispie treats before. We had never had a problem before,” Louis Giorgi said.
Giorgi said immediately after taking one bite of the treat, his daughter told her parents.
She had been dancing with friends when she took the bite.
“We gave her Benadryl like we’d been told,” Natalie’s father said.
Over the next several minutes, the Giorgis said their daughter showed no signs of a reaction whatsoever.
“I kept asking, ‘are you OK?’ She kept telling me she was fine, and she wanted to go back to dancing with her friends,” Natalie’s mom said.
Natalie kept asking her parents to go back to her friends, but they kept telling her she had to stay with them, to make sure she was OK.
“Then suddenly, she started vomiting,” Louis said. “It spiraled downhill out of control so quickly.”
Natalie’s father, a physician, administered both of the EPI-Pens — used to slow or stop an allergic reaction — that the family carried with them.
A third was obtained from the camp and administered. None of them stopped her reaction. Her dad called 911.
“I did everything right, in my opinion. I couldn’t save her,” Louis Giorgi said.
Emergency responders who arrived later couldn’t save her, either.
“She had been fine, and had been talking to us. This was a worst-case scenario. One of the last things she said was, ‘I’m sorry mom,’” Natalie mother said as she wiped a tear away from her cheek.
The Giorgis said one of the many reasons they are sharing Natalie’s story is to convince skeptical parents that food allergies in children is very real.
More information can be found at Nateam.org.