ABC News reports on Friday that a 19 year old college freshman tragically died last week after eating a cookie that contained peanut oil.
Cameron Groezinger-Fitzpatrick, had big plans to study abroad in Australia. Tragically, the Plymouth, Massachusetts native will never get the chance to do so.
Groezinger-Fitzpatrick was first diagnosed with a nut allergy when he was only eight years old after projectile-vomiting “across the room” at a Chinese restaurant according to his mother. In high school he suffered from a serious allergic reaction after dropping his asthma inhaler into a pile of acorns while running. The wild nuts caused his throat to constrict but he was fine after prompt treatment his mother states.
The Bryant University dean's list student had only been home for a couple of hours for spring break when he and friend bought some cookies. His friend ate one first and stated that he didn’t taste any hint of peanut.
His friend recalls Groezinger-Fitzpatrick saying, “Ah, the hell with it, I’m sure it’s fine.”
His mother states that within minutes later at approximately 6:30 p.m., her son was home and doubled over, turning black and blue saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”
His mother searched for his Epi-Pen. He hadn’t unpacked yet so she couldn’t find it. She went to her cupboard but it had expired two months earlier so first responders told her over the phone that she shouldn’t use it.
A fire chief who lived next door brought over an Epi-Pen, which was administered to the teen.
Keep in mind that later, his doctor told his mother she could have used the expired pen, but couldn't say whether it would have helped him. Unfortunately, Cameron’s mother will never know whether or not it would have saved his life.
The teen had spent his life being overly-cautious about his allergy. He carried an Epi-Pen with him, questioned food service workers and checked labels constantly.
As a small child, Groezinger-Fitzpatrick refused to eat nuts because their smell made him sick. "It's almost like his body knew," said his mother.
After arriving at the hospital, 15 people tag-team performed CPR on the dying teen. For two hours, they tried to revive him. "I was begging so much, these people were crying and working on him thinking, 'We're only doing this for the mother,'" she said.
At 9 p.m., he was declared dead. Fitzpatrick stayed with her son's body until 1 a.m.
"I didn't know you can die from nut allergies. I feel foolish," she said.
At least three million American children suffer from a food or digestive allergy, and the problem is growing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"He always wanted to do something big," said his mother, as she prepared to attend his wake. More than 1,000 people were expected. "He's going out big. He's going to make others realize [they need to] be super-cautious. Be your biggest advocate," she said.
The next time you hear a parent or anyone express concern as to whether or not there is any type of peanut in a food product or a restaurant dish, think of Cameron and remember how serious this allergy truly is.