Updated: July 13, 2018: Alexi Ryann Stafford, a 15-year-old from Weston, Florida, with a peanut allergy and asthma, has died following a severe reaction to peanut-containing food.
Kenneth Drysdale, a family friend speaking on behalf of the Staffords, said that while he was not told exactly what Alexi consumed on June 25 that caused her to have anaphylaxis, “I do know it was a mistake. She did not realize there was peanut butter in what she ate.”
Then on July 12, Alexi’s mother Kellie Travers-Stafford explained on her Facebook page that her daughter was at a friend’s home when she made a fatal mistake of eating a Chips Ahoy cookie, one that turned out to have an image on the package indicating these particular cookies contained peanut butter.
“She ate one cookie of chewy Chips Ahoy, thinking it was safe because of the red packaging, only to find out too late that there was an added ingredient … Reese’s peanut butter cups/chips,” wrote Travers-Stafford.
The teen began to feel tingling in her mouth and came home. However, the severe anaphylactic reaction quickly progressed and her mother says Alexi stopped breathing and fell unconscious. “We administered two EpiPens while she was conscious and waited on paramedics for what felt like an eternity,” wrote Travers-Stafford. Her daughter died within an hour and a half of eating the cookie.
“The company has different colored packaging to indicate chunky, chewy, or regular but NO screaming warnings about such a fatal ingredient to many people,” said Travers-Stafford, who shared this information to warn others “so this horrible mistake doesn’t happen again.”
Drysdale set up a GoFundMe page, which has surpassed its goal of $15,000 to cover the funeral costs and other expenses “that may arise during this tough time.”
Several donors have been from the food allergy community. They state in the comments that they have never met the family, but have a child with peanut allergies and can relate to what they’re going through.
“They are an amazing family that, like many families with allergies, has focused on educating as much as possible on the importance of understanding allergies and the severity of them,” Drysdale told Allergic Living.
Alexi is described as a “kind, old soul” on the fundraiser page. In addition to her mother, she leaves behind her father Michael Stafford, two older sisters and a younger brother. Her funeral was held on July 2 in Davie, Florida.
Allergic Living reminds families managing food allergies to always read and re-read ingredients on packages every time. It is easy to make an error, and sometimes brands will change ingredients.