13-year-old boy with severe dairy allergy dies after a piece of cheese was forced down his t-shirt in school
Authorities said it was a "pupil on pupil" incident and the perpetrator has been expelled; parents say they will spread awareness about their departed son's condition
A 13-year-old boy suffering from severe allergy lost his life after he was allegedly "chased with cheese and had it thrown down his T-shirt" at his school, an inquest heard.
The victim was identified as 13-year-old Karanbir Cheema; the incident happened on June 28 at Cheema's Greenford, West London school around lunchtime.
Apart from being highly allergic to gluten, wheat, dairy products, eggs, and nuts, Cheema was also suffering from asthma and atopic eczema, Daily Mail reports.
At about 11.30 am on the fateful day, the caused the teenager to go into an anaphylactic shock at the William Perkin Church of England High School.
The St. Pancras Coroners' Court heard that Cheema was unconscious the whole time as paramedics desperately tried to save his life.
The anguish of a Sikh father Amarjeet Cheema with the loss of his son, Karanbir from an allergic reaction. Our thoughts are with the family pic.twitter.com/uoQTz8T2cH— British Sikh Nurses (@NursesSikh) July 11, 2017
Paramedic Kierin Oppatt appeared as a witness before the inquest today in advance as he reportedly would not be able to attend the full hearing scheduled for later.
According to him, the 999 operator was informed that it was "just an allergic reaction". However, upon arrival at the scene, Oppatt found Karanbir "gasping for air" and covered in hives. He subsequently fell unconscious and stopped breathing shortly after they arrived.
Mary Hassell, the senior coroner, urged the witness to recount the tragic episode in its entirety.
Oppatt then narrated his version of events: "The call came in at 11.40am. We arrived on the scene at 11.47am. The call came in as just an allergic reaction. 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. 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. Staff had administered two spoons of Piriton, an EpiPen and given him his inhaler."
He added: "When we arrived we saw Karan lying on his back on the floor with teachers around him. He appeared to be in a state of pre-arrest. He had very slow respiration - he was gasping for air. His skin was red and there appeared to be hives."
Oppatt knew that the severity of the situation called for more help, and ran outside to summon backup as he could not get reception on his radio.
He continued: "I went to the vehicle and called the communications center and informed them that our patient was in cardiac and respiratory arrest. And that I required the assistance of an advanced paramedic and additional crews at the job."
Oppatt then returned to help his colleague.
"I was in the process of drawing up inter-muscular adrenaline when I was informed by my colleague that Karan had stopped breathing," he said.
The duo performed CPR on the victim, injected adrenaline, and used a defibrillator as they waited for more help to arrive at the scene. "From there I turned around and took his shirt off and placed the defibrillator pads on his chest," he added.
Karan was subsequently stretchered out to an ambulance when additional medical crews arrived. He was unconscious throughout the ordeal.
Ten days later, on July 9, the embattled teenager died in his hospital bed in Great Ormond Street Hospital with his parents by his side.
A schoolboy was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. However, he has not been charged.
While going through a list of potential witnesses with the coroner before the full inquest, Detective Sergeant Christian Rodgers said, "The person involved is no longer at the school. It was pupil on pupil."
Previous reports of the incident mentioned that Karanbir, an ardent Manchester City supporter, shared a home with his mother and grandfather and had a separate fridge and microwave for his personal use.
Karanbir's mother, 52-year-old Rina Cheema, spoke to reporters outside St Pancras Coroners Court: "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."
Another family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "I've never met anyone like him in my life. He would have done anything for anyone. He could have been anything. He loved taking things apart and putting them back together, he loved music. He would have done something out of this world, he was an extraordinary child. He was extremely bright - he knew very well how to manage his condition. He wanted to be a barrister but then changed his mind when he saw the size of the books."
Following the devastating loss of her only son, Cheema now plans to raise awareness about anaphylactic shock and other risks related to allergies.