A Seton Hall freshman saved her friend’s life Monday night when an allergic reaction was triggered by pine nuts in cafeteria rice.
Freshman Ariana Caprio spent four hours in the hospital after Chelsea Scalzo administered a life-saving Epi-Pen injection.
“If she wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have made it up the stairs,” Caprio said of Scalzo.
According to Caprio, she was not aware the rice contained pine nuts because she did not see a label indicating it did.
Caprio said she had been assured by a dietician at orientation that signs would be posted on foods containing nuts or nut products.
“I just assumed it was beans,” Caprio said.
After ingesting the food, Caprio immediately spit it out and ran back to Aquinas Hall in the pouring rain, where she lives, to retrieve her Epi-Pen.
Scalzo also lives in Aquinas and followed Caprio back to make sure she would be okay.
“When I found her, she was gagging on her own vomit,” Scalzo said.
Scalzo said she instructed the DA, whose name she did not know, to call 911, and Seton Hall Public Safety arrived on the scene after what Scalzo estimated was five minutes.
Bianca Decker, a freshman Aquinas resident, was also present and retrieved the Epi-Pen from Caprio’s room, according to Caprio and Scalzo.
When Decker attempted to give the first injection, she accidentally stabbed herself in the finger, according to Scalzo.
Neither Decker nor Scalzo had ever administered an Epi-Pen before.
“I learned how to by watching Bianca stab herself,” Scalzo said.
Although Caprio was gasping for air, as well as going in and out of consciousness, she managed to motion to Scalzo by making a fist and pounding it against her leg, according to Scalzo.
According to Scalzo, she instructed Aquinas Resident Assistants to go to Caprio’s room and retrieve Benedryl, but she was told that RAs are not allowed to administer medication to students.
Scalzo said she got the Benedryl herself and gave it to Caprio.
Scalzo estimated that 15 minutes had passed before any outside medical help arrived on campus.
“There was no immediate response at all,” said Scalzo.
After EMTs arrived, Scalzo and Caprio said they estimated that another 45 minutes went by before they were taken to the hospital.
“Essentially, me and Bianca could’ve gotten her in the car and there quicker,” Scalzo said.
According to Caprio, an allergic reaction symptoms have a rapid onset.
“Timing is everything,” Caprio said. “It was just too slow.”
Scalzo accompanied Caprio to the hospital and also called Caprio’s parents to notify them of what happened.
Caprio said she returned to campus around midnight Tuesday.
Caprio said Health Services called her Tuesday to ask how she was, and Caprio went to Gourmet Dining Services to notify them of what happened.
Caprio said she had never had an allergic reaction like this before.
“This one was by far the worst,” Caprio said. “I have never passed out or seized before.”
Caprio also admitted she should have had an Epi-Pen on her.
Despite the incident, Caprio said she is feeling better.
Jessica Sutcliffe can be reached at email@example.com
Assistant News Editor Nicole Bitette contributed to this report.