Food allergy awareness

Published: Mar. 11, 2019 at 5:18 PM EDT
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Food allergies can sometimes have dangerous consequences. Just three weeks ago William Byrd High School senior Brandon Cheatham passed away after an allergic reaction to nuts.

"He was definitely one of the best people I've ever met, I mean always wanting to do something for others instead of himself, he constantly had a smile on his face," Jacklynne Goyne, one of Cheatham's best friends, said.

Brandon Cheatham's life was cut short three weeks ago, after he had a severe allergic reaction to a brownie he ate. He did not realize it contained ground walnuts.

"A lot of anger comes out because you think, why did he not ask, or why was it brought in the house," Alex Perdue, Cheatham's uncle, said.

The family wants to be sure no one else has to go through this.

"It's easier to deal with a younger child with food allergies because you have more control but as kids get older in very many things, you lose control, and so good teaching from the gecko, when the kids are five, seven, and 10, and make sure the child always asks what's in the food, reads labels well, and always has their injectable epinephrine with them," Laura Dziadzio, a Pediatric Allergist with Carilion Children's, said.

She says some of these EpiPens are small and easy to carry in your pocket. She recommends all family and friends learn how to use one.

Cheatham's uncle also thinks more attention should be brought to food labels. He said, "People need to realize that, people with allergies and stuff, and your bringing stuff into somebody's house, just go buy it from the store, buy it from the store where it has a label on it."

"If you know the child has food allergies, read the label carefully, if your sometimes in positions where it's a potluck where people are bringing food, if people can label it that's the easiest thing to do," Dziadzio added.

Another tip---wear a food allergy identity tag like Cheatham's so people are aware of your allergy.

"Bracelet or necklace, on our phones, actually on iPhone there's a help app and if you click the home back button and put your food allergy in there, it will bring it up on your home screen," Dziadzio said.

Cheatham's life couldn't be saved but his family hopes another can be.

"We want to make sure that this doesn't happen to another family," Perdue said.