Boy with dairy allergy died after classmate threw cheese down his T-shirt in UK school

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Tapas Barman, a third-year student, succumbed to his injuries in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, officials said. (Representational) Karan was allergic to various food items including dairy products and also suffered from atopic eczema. (Representational)

A 13-year-old schoolboy who was allergic to dairy products died after a classmate allegedly chased him and threw cheese down his T-shirt, a local court in London heard on Wednesday.

The boy, who was identified as Karanbir Cheema, also known as Karan, went into anaphylactic shock after the incident at William Perkin Church of England High School in Greenford on June 28, last year.

Karan was allergic to various food items including dairy products and also suffered from atopic eczema, according to the UK’s Telegraph. His schoolmate, also a 13-year-old boy, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder but has not been charged.

Recounting the fateful incident in court, paramedic Kierin Oppatt, who took the stand as the first witness, said the 999 operator was told it was “just an allergic reaction” but when he arrived, Karan was ‘gasping for air’ and had developed swelling all over. The boy was unconscious and stopped breathing shortly before the paramedics arrived.

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Oppatt said, “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.”

He said that the school staff had informed the hospital that perhaps someone had chased Karan with cheese and had proceeded to throw it down his T-shirt which sparked the allergy and made it difficult for the patient to breathe.

Oppatt said, “Staff had administered two spoons of piriton, an epipen and given him his inhaler. 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 and was gasping for air.”

Realising the severity of the situation, Mr Oppatt tried to call for help but his radio could not contact reception. When Oppatt returned, his colleague told him their patient had stopped breathing, so they started CPR, gave him adrenaline and used a defibrillator while waiting for backup.

Karan was then immediately rushed to the hospital, but he never regained consciousness and died at Great Ormond Street Hospital on July 9.

Karan’s mother Rina Cheema, a qualified accountant, his two brothers and sister were at court Wednesday. Ms Cheema, 52, said she wanted “answers” and outside the court, said, “I am devastated as a mother after losing my son and my family have lost their brother. 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.”

Detective Sergeant Christian Rodgers while going through a list of potential witnesses with the investigator ahead of the full probe said, “The person involved is no longer at the school.” Outside court, Rodgers added, “It was pupil on pupil.”

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