'E.R.' Finale Based on Death of Producer's 17-Year-Old Niece

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"E.R." hopes to educate millions of teenagers and young adults with tonight's series finale.

The special two-hour episode of the long-running medical drama was inspired by the tragic real-life story of 17-year-old Shelby Lyn Allen of Redding, Calif., who died of alcohol poisoning in December.

"E.R." Executive Producer John Wells was so moved by the story of his real-life ex-niece that he wanted to include it in the series' final episode.

"What seems like teenage fun can actually be warning signs for a significantly dangerous medical situation," says Wells.

The Foothill High School junior died after a night of drinking with two teens at a friend's home. Her friends moved her to a bathroom and propped her up to keep her from choking, but she was dead when the girls found her the next morning.

"I have vowed to do whatever I can to educate teens, young adults and parents to the dangers of alcohol poisoning,” says Shelby’s mother, Debbie Allen, 52. “I want all of them to know that immediate medical intervention can save lives. It is my deepest desire that no other families or friends will have to endure the pain of loss that we experience every day of our lives.”

"We're just trying to make young people, teenagers -- really, anyone -- understand that they may be used to seeing someone throwing up at a party, but they need to be aware that if you can't rouse them, they may have crossed that line into a medical emergency," adds Shelby's father, Steve Allen, 52.

Shelby's parents started a nonprofit foundation dedicated to spreading awareness about alcohol poisoning, and started a Web site, www.shelbysrules.com.

In tonight’s episode, "And in the End, Part 1 & 2," Dr. Tony Gates, played by John Stamos, works on a young teen brought in with alcohol poisoning after playing a deadly drinking game with friends.

The final episode of "E.R." airs tonight at 8 p.m. EDT on NBC.


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