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Toddler with dairy allergy died after pre-K allegedly fed him grilled cheese, city investigating

Family of the three-year-old says that adults at his Harlem pre-k fed him grilled cheese, despite knowing about his severe allergy.
Elijah, toddler death, harlem pre k, food allergy
Elijah's family say that they three-year-old died after being fed a grilled cheese at his pre-k, even though they reportedly knew about his severe allergy. Photo: GoFundMe

New York City agencies are investigating the death of a three-year-old boy who was given food he was allergic to while at his pre-kindergarten in Harlem.

Elijah Silvera was a preschool student at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services, which has since been shut down by city officials as the fatal mistake is being investigated, according to CBS2.

A friend of Elijah's family created a GoFundMe page in order to raise money for his funeral and memorial expenses as well as to help support his family as they take time off work and mourn the toddler's death.

According to that page, Elijah had been given a grilled cheese sandwich by an adult at the pre-k facility, “despite them knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy.”

Elijah went into anaphylactic shock, according to the GoFundMe, and was taken to the pediatric emergency room at Harlem Hospital, where he died.

The GoFundMe is also seeking money to cover an independent autopsy, because “at this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah’s death will fall between the pre-k and the hospital itself,” according to the page. Elijah’s family and friends want to find out exactly what happened to cause his death and say a third-party examination will ensure a full picture.

Still, Elijah’s death was preventable, his family and friends say. They’re urging more to be done to protect children who have life-threatening allergies while they are in schools.

It’s estimated that 5.9 million children under the age of 18 have food allergies, according to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), which equals 1 in 13 children, or about two in every classroom.

The New York City Health Department is investigating the incident, the city's Administration for Children's Services confirmed. 

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will get to the bottom of what happened here,” the department said in a statement, according to ABC7. “In the meantime, we're closing the Center for Family Services and continuing to aggressively investigate what happened and whether the facility could have done something differently to prevent this tragedy."

Elijah leaves behind a “heartbroken mother, Dina, father, Thomas, and his 5-year-old brother Sebastian, as well as dozens of friends and family members who all mourn the loss of his precious young life,” according to the GoFundMe. 

 
 
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