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A boy has died after a severe allergic reaction to cheese, which was reportedly thrown at him by a peer at school.

13-year old Karanbir Cheema, who went by Karan, died in July of last year, with his school saying he was chased by a student who threw cheese down his shirt.

A boy of the same age – who no longer attends the school – was arrested under the suspicion of attempted murder, but charges were not pressed.

Emergency response

Paramedic Kierin Oppatt says the school underestimated the severity of Karan’s reaction when reporting it to 999.

The boy was covered in hives and ‘gasping for air’ when responders arrived to the scene of exposure – West London’s William Perkin Church of England High School.

Opatt said: “I went to the vehicle and called the communications centre 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.”

Hospital stay

By the time reinforcements had arrived, Karan was unconscious and had stopped breathing – the result of anaphylactic shock.

He was then rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he died after a 10-day stay.

His parents, who were there when Karan died, say they’re still seeking an explanation for their son’s death.

‘We want answers’

Karan’s mother Rina Cheema said: “We want answers. 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.”

Death by dairy

Dairy allergies are not entirely uncommon, and have been the cause of death of a number of young people over recent years.

Among them are nine-year-old Brit Sadie Bristow, and a six-year-old Perth girl – both of whom died in August – as well as 18-year-old Shahida Shahid, who suffered the same fate in January.

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination. She aims to apply a privilege-conscious...