Indian-origin schoolboy dies from severe cheese allergy in UK


An Indian-origin schoolboy with a severe dairy allergy died after he was allegedly chased and had cheese thrown down his t-shirt, an inquest into his death was told on Wednesday.

Karanbir Cheema, known as Karan, was discovered gasping for air by paramedics at his school in Greenford, west London, in June last year, the St. Pancras Coroner's Court was told. The 13-year-old died after 11 days in intensive care following the incident at the school.

"On arrival at the scene, I immediately knew it was life threatening and that the patient had a high risk of going into cardiac and respiratory arrest," Kieran Oppatt, the first paramedic on the scene, told the court.

"We were told by school staff that perhaps someone had chased the patient with cheese and had proceeded to throw it down his T-shirt. That he had an allergic reaction, that he was itchy, his skin was very hot, and that he was having difficulty breathing," Oppatt said.

Karan was allergic to wheat, gluten and dairy, eggs, and nuts and his dietary requirements were well-known to pupils and teachers at William Perkin Church of England High School. The inquest heard that despite being treated with Piriton, an inhaler and a special pen used for injection in response to anaphylactic shock, Karan continued to struggle. When additional crews arrived, Karan was taken on a stretcher to the ambulance and was unconscious throughout. He later died at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Another boy, also 13 at the time, was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder but has not been charged.

Detective Sergeant Christian Rodgers, while going through a list of potential witnesses with the coroner ahead of the full inquest, said: "The person involved is no longer at the school. It was pupil on pupil."

Speaking outside the court, his accountant mother Rina Cheema, 52, said: "I am devastated as a mother after losing my son and my family have lost their brother. He was a very, very bright young boy. He was so bright he could have been anything he wanted. I brought him up by myself. I trained him to read all about his condition. We want answers."

His father Amarjeet, an administrator for engineer, added: "We were so proud of him. He had a very bright future. There are a million things he could have done with his life. He was a bright, bright boy. He was kind and gentle. We are just devastated."

The inquest remains ongoing and expected to conclude in a few weeks.

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