Three year old toddler, Elijah Silvera died on Nov. 3 after he went into anaphylactic shock from eating a grilled cheese at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem. He was rushed to the Harlem Hospital pediatric emergency room, where he died.
Silvera was served a grilled cheese sandwich despite the school knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy food.
The New York City Health Department released a statement late Wednesday that the school will remain closed as the investigation continues.
“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. 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,” the statement read.
Elijah’s father, Thomas Silvera, told ABC News that the preschool “did not provide the proper protocol” and that Elijah’s dairy allergy is something “so simple” that “could have been avoided.”
“I’m pissed off that this had to happen to my son, but the next thing I don’t want is it to happen to somebody else’s son or daughter,” he said.
The preschool did not call 911 during the time of the boy’s emergency, the FDNY confirmed. Instead, they called Elijah’s mother, who took him to the hospital, the family said. Elijah then when into anaphylactic shock and later died at the pediatric emergency room at Harlem Hospital Center, according to the GoFundMe page.
Silvera said that it appears that Elijah’s allergies were “pushed to the side.” He stressed the importance of educational facilities to “take the steps and measures” to ensure that everyone is aware of the severity of children’s allergies.
Silvera said his wife did “everything” she could as a parent to make the school aware of Elijah’s allergy, including providing the proper medications and paperwork.
“He was strong. He was a fighter,” Silvera said. “I’m gonna keep fighting for that boy.”
Silvera said that having his two children “propelled” him to want to “do better” in life. He relished memories of caring for his young sons while simultaneously working toward a certification to be a physician’s assistant.
While life presented its hardships in the past, nothing could prepare him for the heartache that came with losing a child, Silvera said.
“The death of the child is the hardest,” he said.
In a statement released on the GoFundMe page released by the family, they are trying to have a 2nd autopsy to determine the exact cause of death of the toddler.
On November 3rd, 2017, our beloved Elijah was playing peacefully at his pre-k in Harlem, NYC, when he was given a grilled cheese sandwich by an adult at the pre-k, despite them knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy. Elijah went into anaphylactic shock and was taken to the Pediatric ER at Harlem Hospital, where, tragically, they were unable to save him. Elijah leaves behind his 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. Elijah was three years old.
Right now, our family is immersed in our grief, but we are also facing an overwhelming list of financial and practical matters, all related to Elijah’s untimely death. This GoFundMe page is organized by two of Thomas and Dina’s close family members. Its sole purpose is to alleviate the following costs:
–Cooked meals delivered to the family home so that Dina, Thomas and little Sebastian can rest and mourn and begin to heal without having to worry about shopping and cooking
–Financial support for time off of work
–Funeral & Memorial Expenses
–The cost of a second and independent autopsy. Here’s why we need it: at this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah’s death will fall between the pre-k and the hospital itself. There are protocols that both the hospital and preschool must follow. We want to find out exactly what caused Elijah’s death and that will mean sorting out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred at either the school or the hospital. Having a third party medical examination will ensure our ability to get a clear picture. We just want justice for Elijah.
Those matters aside, we would like to go on record as saying: Elijah’s death was completely preventable. 5.9 million children under the age of 18 suffer from food allergies in the United States. That’s 1 in 13 children, which works out to roughly two children with allergies inside of every U.S. classroom. WE CAN AND MUST DO MORE TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM LIFE THREATENING ALLERGIC REACTIONS IN U.S. SCHOOLS.
Our family is only beginning the long and painful process of adjusting to a world that does not include Elijah in it. As we ease into this unthinkable reality and say goodbye to our sweet, joyful Elijah–and our hopes and dreams for all he would become–we thank you for your support. It is an unimaginable time for everyone who loved Elijah, in particular for his 5-year-old brother Sebastian, who struggles to understand that his brother is truly gone. We dread the upcoming holiday season without our little boy. We are lost. For everyone who has already reached out to us with a text, a phone call, or a hot plate of food, it is your expressed care that keeps us going. Even if we are too overwhelmed to respond directly right now, we read every message and we want you to know that it means the world.
For those who can help with this GoFundMe, thank you. All of it will go directly to the costs listed above. Trust that no amount is too small and all of it is deeply appreciated.
With Gratitude and Profound Sadness,
Elijah’s Heartbroken Family