Teen Who Turned Life Around Dies of Severe Allergic Reaction to Tree Nuts

in News, Peanut & Tree Nut
Published: July 28, 2017
Anthony Lyson, 18, died of an anaphylactic reaction after accidentally consuming nuts. Photo: Facebook

Anthony Lyson, a high school senior who overcame a difficult childhood and had dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer, has died of an anaphylactic reaction after eating part of a nutrition bar that contained tree nuts.

Anthony’s grandfather, David Lyson of Sparks, Nevada, told Allergic Living that on July 20, his grandson had been hanging out with friends, including his girlfriend, when he started to feel really hungry. According to the grandfather, the 18-year-old, who had allergies to tree nuts including walnuts and cashews, grabbed a power bar and began eating without first checking the ingredients.

Shortly after eating at least half of it, a friend asked Anthony if he was aware that this brand of bar contained nuts.

“Immediately, Anthony threw the bar down when he heard that,” says Lyson, who says his grandson was usually vigilant about asking about or reading ingredients to avoid nuts. The friends told the grandfather that Anthony tried to vomit to get rid of what he had consumed, but he began to suffer stomach pain that quickly grew worse.

Anthony did not have an epinephrine auto-injector with him. His grandfather says the boy initially was playing down the severity, telling his friends, “I’m OK.” Then Anthony began having difficulty breathing.

His cousin, who was among the group of friends, drove Anthony to the hospital. At some point, the teen lost consciousness. At the hospital, doctors would later tell his grandfather that he had been without oxygen for about 10 to 15 minutes.

One of the things that mystifies Lyson is that Anthony, who also had asthma and eczema, was usually “adamant about checking his foods to make sure they were safe. Every time he would see a cake, he would ask, ‘Are there nuts in that?’” Lyson says.

The grandfather said despite having diagnosed nut allergies for years, he’d never known his grandson to experience an allergic reaction “because he was good at being on top of it.”

The boy and his younger sister moved in with their grandparents in Nevada when Anthony was 8 years old. This came about after Lyson and his wife discovered the parents’ circumstances in Texas had left their grandkids living in a car.

“We picked him and his sister up,” says the grieving grandfather, who was organizing photographs for a July 31 funeral. “We had him for 10 years.”

Anthony with his sister.

It is apparent that Anthony was very focused on turning his life around. “He loved school. He went after it. His grades were always good,” Lyson said, speaking proudly of Anthony’s 4.0 GPA and scholarships that he had lined up for college. “He loved everybody and no one ever wanted to fight with Anthony because he was an awesome kid.”

There has been an outpouring of support, from friends sending flowers to the Lyson family to strangers making donations at their GoFundMe memorial fund, which was set up to assist with the funeral costs.

“He touched so many hearts,” Lyson says of Anthony, whom he described as a young man who was very aware of the kind of impact he wanted to make and the positive influence he wanted to be for his younger sister, considering the circumstances of their childhood.

Anthony was also a registered organ donor, a decision he made as he was getting his driver’s license. Doctors have found donor recipients for Anthony’s heart, kidney, liver and pancreas. “Those are going to go to save somebody’s life,” says his grandfather.

To help the Lyson family, you are welcome to donate to their GoFundMe here.

If you know someone with food allergies, Allergic Living asks that you to take a moment to remind them of essential food allergy protocols:

  • Always carry an epinephrine auto-injector, and never eat unless you have it with you.
  • In the case of a reaction involving two or more body systems (e.g. respiratory, cardio, gut, skin), use the auto-injector promptly. Delay in getting this first-line treatment can play a role in severe, and even fatal reactions.
  • After using the auto-injector, call 911, since further treatment and monitoring can begin in the ambulance.