Mother: Kiwis eaten became life or death situation for daughter


The Rhode Island Department of Health says it may have been a wash that was used on local kiwis that sent some students to the emergency room. The kiwis that were distributed were unpeeled, so the department of health's theory now the dangerous allergic reactions may have been caused by the cleaning solution.

Now, one local family is calling for a thorough investigation.

“I couldn't breathe that much,” said 8-year old Waleska.

It’s a terrifying moment for the third grader whose tongue went numb after eating her school lunch.

Waleska quickly scribbled a note to tell the adults at her school she ate some kiwi and was starting to feel like she couldn't breathe

“I bit it and I got some of the skin by accident, and that's when my tongue started to get numb,” said Waleska to NBC 10 Sunday.

And that allergic reaction could have turned deadly.

“I was crying hard,” said Waleska.

A school nurse at Times2 STEM Academy in Providence quickly used a epi pen on Waleska, and the little girl was rushed to the hospital. That's when her mom got the horrifying phone call.

“ I just ran out of work,” said Jovanna Garcia.

More than 30 students across Rhode Island had a similar reaction.

The kiwi, says the Rhode Island Department of Health, was cut and bagged at Roch's Fresh Foods in West Greenwich.

“Her throat was closed in,” said Garcia.

It's disturbing for Waleska's mom, who watched her daughter being treated at Hasboro children's hospital for about four hours.

“To me, it's a life and death situation,” said Garcia.

During NBC 10’s interview, Waleska is still scratching her rashes just a bit -- and she showed us some of the bumps still on her skin days later. Now, Waleska is carrying an epi pen with her at all times, in case something like this happens again.

The third grader tells us if it wasn't for a school nurse, Ms. Rachel Cassidy, the allergic reaction might have cost her life.

“I really wanted to say thank you to my nurse, because if it wasn't for her, I'd be gone by now,” said Waleska.

The DOH has its very unlikely students will experience any delayed allergic reactions if they had those kiwis.

If any symptoms are observed, the DOH recommends heading to the emergency room or seeing a health care provider, immediately.

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