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Peanut Allergy Kills Sophomore Student at Oakland University: Parents in Shock

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A 19-year-old sophomore student at Oakland University died because of severe allergic reaction to peanut butter.

Chandler Swink had been in a coma at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Mich. since Nov. 18 after he came in contact with peanut butter at a friend's house.

At age 2, Swink was diagnosed with level six nut allergy, the most severe form of the allergy, making it imperative for him to avoid exposure to peanuts.

Swink's mother, Nancy, said that somebody baked cookies with peanut butter at the apartment that her son visited. He may have eaten the food or somebody who was contaminated by the residues of the peanut butter may have touched her son.

The aspiring nursing student injected himself with an EpiPen when he started to have a reaction and drove himself to the hospital. He was found unconscious in the hospital's parking lot by 1 a.m. on Nov. 18.

Doctors said that Swink simultaneously suffered from anaphylactic shock, asthma attack and cardiac arrest.

"Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction that may cause death," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says on its website.

Swink's family had been told he had a 2 percent chance of surviving. At 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 26, he was pronounced dead. Before this, the patient no longer had brain activity and was hooked to a machine for oxygen.

His mother said that people will now understand that food allergies can be life-threatening. She related that her son was bullied by parents and students for a long time after officials at Avondale School made the district peanut-free for Swink, blaming him for the restrictions.

"They would say, 'It can't be that bad,'" Nancy said. "Yet he never complained to us. He held that in for 18 years. When he went to college, he was the happiest kid because he was no longer labeled."

Bill Swink, the patient's father, reminded people to take other food allergies very seriously, particularly during the holiday season. He said that there is no need to add allergy-triggering ingredients in the food if there are family members with food allergies.

"Chandler Swink's death is a tragic loss for our University," said OU interim vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Glenn McIntosh. "He was a scholarship student with a passion for learning and had a very bright future."

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