Girl stops breathing at Camp Sacramento: Paramedics unable to resuscitate teen after allergic reaction

By From page A1 | July 31, 2013

A girl died at Camp Sacramento, just east of Twin Peaks, Friday night despite rescue efforts.

El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call at 10:40 p.m. to assist paramedics on a report of a 13-year-old girl who was not breathing, a press release said.

When deputies arrived, they found paramedics already performing CPR. They assisted in coordinating a landing zone for a Care Flight helicopter out of Reno, Nev. She was flown to Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe.

The girl, identified as Natalie Giorgi, was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. on July 27.

“It was the perfect day,” said Kelly Brothers, a friend of the family, said of the multi-family gathering. “We were having a great time. There was dancing going on, a hula hoop competition.”

But it was “kind of dark” at the time when a tray of Rice Krispies treats was passed around. There were three types, Brothers said: plain, sprinkles and frosted. Giorgi, who was standing next to Brothers’ daughter, took one she thought was covered in chocolate frosting, but the covering had peanuts in it. She took one bite, Brothers said, spit it out immediately as she tasted peanuts and ran to her mother.

“She had a known allergy,” Brothers said. Her parents had EpiPens, used to inject epinephrine to combat allergic reactions, and monitored the girl for about 20 minutes. “Then she became sick, she had trouble breathing,” Brothers said.

Giorgi’s father, Louis, a trained physician, injected her with three EpiPens and tried to clear her airway before resorting to CPR. An ambulance arrived and the paramedics did what they could, Brothers said, before Natalie was flown out by Life Flight. But, Brothers said, anaphylactic shock is “severe and catastrophic to a young body,” and she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The cause of death was determined to be “severe laryngeal edema due to presumed anaphylactic reaction,” an inflammation of the mucous glands in the larynx as a result of anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction.

The paramedics were “frustrated-angry,” and the Life Flight nurses were in tears, Brothers said. Despite having all the emergency services and EpiPens at their disposal, Natalie Giorgi still could not be saved. Brothers spoke with an emergency room nurse afterward, he said, and she told him that if the girl had taken the bite of peanuts while in the middle of the ER, she still would only have a 50-50 chance of living.

Brothers said that many people grew up in an era when an allergy meant “the sniffles or wheezing” and “when an allergy didn’t mean death.” He added that people “need to get the word out, (peanut allergy) is a potentially deadly allergy” and not something to be taken lightly.

Cole Mayer

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