Carson woman tells story of daughter's death on Montel Williams

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Shirley Oxoby thinks a warning label could prove the difference between life and death.

It could have meant she would not have had to sit by her comatose daughter for three years -- hoping she would beat the odds -- but finally losing her.

"It makes good sense for manufacturers to be more proactive in labeling," she said. "Let's give people a few more seconds to make a good, intelligent choice."

Oxoby will appear Friday on the nationally televised Montel Williams Show to talk about her daughter, Kerri Ann, who died last year from an allergic reaction to the nuts in a candy she ate.

Kerri knew of her allergy to nuts but had eaten the candy before so assumed she would be safe, even though the ingredients listed "nut meats." However, ingredients in the candy had changed to include hazelnut extract, which sent her into a three-year coma and ended with her death in 2001 at the age of 25.

Her mother believes if the label had warned about the formulation change, Kerri would not have eaten the candy on Christmas 1998.

"If there had been an allergy alert message, she would have read it. She was just going on her past experience," Oxoby said. "Kerri's error in eating that was an error in youth -- when you're young the idea of dying or being injured is not part of your daily routine."

Participating in the show dedicated to the deadly dangers of common medications and food products is one way for Oxoby to spread her message and gain support for her cause to change legislation.

"I want to use that kind of publicity to help people personalize the issue of food allergy," she said. "Once you see her picture, it will be harder to say you don't want to help."

Oxoby has joined with activist groups to enact three basic changes: to post alerts when there are changes in formulation, to list ingredients in plain English -- not chemistry -- and to list trace ingredients.

For Oxoby, seeing the laws change will ensure that her daughter-- the one who participated in everything from sports to drama in high school, who graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and was pursuing her master's degree and who friends sometimes called "super woman" -- will not have died in vain.

It also keeps her focused on the positive instead of succumbing to the negative.

"In me, there is more fear that people will forget her rather than anger at her passing," Oxoby said. "You get sad, I don't deny that. But it's so much harder for me to be sad than to try to help somebody else.

"It's not a denial thing. It's a healing thing."

Oxoby is a counselor at Mark Twain Elementary School and her husband, Steve Oxoby, works for the Nevada Department of Transportation. They have two other children, Lyndi, 22, and Jacob, 15.


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