August Maturo, better known as Auggie from Girl Meets World, describes going into anaphylaxis on set, and what he does to make sure it never happens again.
It’s no big secret that living with food allergies is never any fun, especially for a kid. August Maturo, the young actor who played Auggie on Girl Meets World and recently starred in the film “Shepherd: The Hero Dog,” learned just how dangerous an allergic reaction can be the hard way – when he went into anaphylaxis on the set of the show when he was only six years old.
“I remember when I was six years old and on the set of Girl Meets World. I accidentally had a cookie that had nuts in it,” he said in an interview. “My tongue was tingly, and my throat was closing up. I couldn’t breathe. I remember when I was in the ambulance and being taken away from the set. I felt like I was going to die.”
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause the person to go into shock. When this happens, blood pressure suddenly drops and airways narrow, meaning a person can no longer breathe. If not treated immediately with a shot of epinephrine (commonly referred to as an epi-pen) and a trip to the emergency room, it can be life-threatening.
A common condition
Nut allergies like Maturo’s – he is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, coconut, sunflower, peas, garbanzo beans – are common. Unfortunately, so are all of the nuts he is allergic to. He has to be extremely careful about what he eats.
“I haven’t had anaphylaxis since I was six because I’ve learned to not trust any new foods, especially in restaurants, and I always, always read labels,” Maturo says. “I even call the manufacturer to find out if the food is made on shared equipment with my allergens, because putting it on labels is a voluntary thing and companies don’t always list that information on the package.”
Speaking up and learning to cope
Maturo knows from experience how hard this can be for kids, but he wants his peers to know that it’s not the end of the world.
“You don’t have to be scared, because you can learn how to manage it. Sure you have to carry epinephrine with you everywhere, you have to always read the label, or call manufacturers, and you can’t have foods that other people can have,” he says. “But just know you are not alone, because many other people have food allergies, including me. There is a lot of information out there to help you.”
Maturo added: “A great resource is through FAACT – (The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team) at www.foodallergyawareness.org. I am a spokesperson for this non-profit organization. They have lots of great information and support for people with food allergies, including food allergy friendly summer camps for kids called CampTAG, and a yearly Teen Summit for teens and their parents. I’ve gone to both and have made lifelong friends with other kids with food allergies like me. It’s nice to meet other kids who understand what you are going through.”
Kids can’t be with their parents one hundred percent of every day, so it’s important they understand the seriousness of their allergy, and understand how to communicate it to the adults around them. “It used to be hard when I was younger because I relied on my mom. Since then, I’ve learned to speak up by myself because I’m older and she’s not always with me,” Maturo says. “I learned over the years how serious this is and what it means to have a condition that is life threatening.”
But Maturo says, if he can learn to live and thrive with a serious allergy, there’s no reason you can’t do the same. “Food allergies don’t have to stop you from having a wonderful life and following your dreams.”