UPDATE Monday, August 22, 2011 -- Jharell Dillard's funeral will be on Sunday, August 28, at 3:00 pm. It will be at his family's church, Stone Mountain SDA, 1350 Silver Hill Road, Stone Mountain, GA.
Visitation will be Saturday, August 27, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. It will be at Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home, 914 Scenic Highway, Lawrenceville, GA.
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. Thursday, August 18, 2011 -- Jharell Dillard, 15 years old, was taller than his father, loved basketball, had a deep faith, and was getting ready to graduate from Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville at 16 and then go to college.
Jharell was also allergic to several foods.
And Tuesday night he took a bite from a cookie that he thought was free of nuts.
"Immediately he realized there were nuts in the cookie."
Charles Dillard speaks of his son with the resolute strength of a man who is in unspeakable pain that he wants no other parent to experience.
Jharell was shopping at the Loganville Wal Mart with his mother and sisters Tuesday night, and he went out to the car to get one of the cookies his aunt had given them when they stopped at her house just before they drove to the store.
Charles Dillard said the cookies were not home-made, they were store-bought cookies, and he thinks Jharell's aunt had simply mixed up the cookies accidentally with some that contained nuts. Jharell is allergic to nuts.
"She pulled out some chocolate chip, and I guess she pulled out some out of another bag that she thought were chocolate chip, as well. She gave them to him as chocolate chip. And that's why he ate them, because he believed they were chocolate chip cookies."
Jharell immediately had a reaction. Medication that had helped him before wasn't helping. His mom called 911. He went into anaphylactic shock.
Loganville Police Detective David Hunt said there was little that anyone could have done to save him.
"It really comes down to seconds, because once someone goes into anaphylactic shock, their airway begins to swell."
Jharell never regained consciousness.
"It's a tragic accident," said Det. Hunt.
"It was such a severe, quick reaction to whatever nut was in the cookie, that he would have needed to have been in an emergency room the minute it occurred" to have survived it, Dillard said he found out later.
He and his wife just want to tell other parents of children who have allergies -- always be vigilant.
Jharell had been flown to Children's Health Care of Atlanta at Egleston, where his parents had to make the decision to remove his life support. They are donating Jharell's organs. As of Thursday night Jharell had saved seven lives.
"The feeling my wife and I received after hearing that his organs have been placed and that these people would receive a second chance at life makes Jharell's life more important."
Dillard said the support that people from his church are giving the family is what's getting them through this now.
The Dillards have two other children, two girls ages 17 and 10.
They will let everyone know, possibly Friday, when Jharell's funeral will be.