Just days before her 16th birthday, Abbie Benford of Hopkinton, Mass., died of an anaphylactic reaction on Dec. 18.

Abbie had an allergic reaction to some food and was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital but died before doctors could reverse the inflammation.

The family is requesting that donations be made in her name to the Food Allergy and Research Education foundation (7925 Jones Branch Dr. Ste 1100, McLean, VA 22102 / foodallergy.org).

The reality of food allergies

It’s important that we never lose sight of what allergies like Abbie’s can mean. While some dismiss food allergies as being “all in their heads” or “something they grow out of,” they are very real to a growing number of children and young adults.

Let Abbie and children like her stand as a testament to the wannabe “cool uncle” who slips the kid some peanut bars or the “fun” grandma who thinks it might be OK to “occasionally” take the grandchild out for some “forbidden” eggs. Food allergies are not just over-protective parents, over-zealous doctors or weird lifestyle choices. They are real and they can be deadly.

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