The mother of a 13 year old boy who died of a severe allergic reaction to cheese at school is demanding answers from bosses as to how it happened. The boy, Karan Cheema, became seriously ill at his school in Greenford, West London, during morning lessons. Staff rushed to help the popular pupil, who was known to have allergies, but he died after being rushed to hospital. It has been claimed Karan was ‘forced to eat’ the cheese but others have said it was ‘flicked at his face’ while his mother claimed the food was ‘rubbed against his neck’.
Another boy was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. His mother Rina struggled to control her emotions as she demanded answers as to how her son, who led a normal life despite his allergies, had gotten exposed to the cheese. Rina said the police and William Perkin C of E School kept her in the dark about the events which led to Karan’s death on Sunday.
The heartbroken mom also urged schools to have a better understanding of allergens and appoint medically trained staff on site to handle emergencies. “The school called me at 11.30am and I rushed from my work and by the time I got to the school he was already on a trolley going into the ambulance. I went in the ambulance with him and we went to Northwick Park hospital and he was then transferred to Great Ormond Street and put into intensive care. What exactly happened I do not know, but if anyone was to sit next to him with something he was allergic to he would tell them, he wasn’t shy about saying what we could have. Everyone would have known about his allergies, wheat was life threatening to him. “ She said.
Rina further explained, “When he was two he went into an anaphylactic shock and that was when we first realized he was allergic to wheat. The first one was milk at six weeks old because his eczema got worse and they did a series of skin tests to find out what he was allergic to. We were like glue and paper, we were more like friends. Whilst Karan was at Great Ormond Street everybody prayed for him to pull through. His uncle in India went from one place to another for prayers. Every parent who loves their child holds onto the last glimmer, that last ray of hope. He went into cardiac arrest and he died, but I got my chance to say goodbye to him. He had a smile on his face when he went and we prayed until the final second.”
She added, “I want answers, I want to get to the bottom of what happened, I will be asking the school if he was bullied but my son was very popular, you could not help but like that child, he never made enemies. When it happened, the school asked me if they could give him piriton because of what he had said to them. I had provided the school with all the medication from the beginning of September and gave them a description of what he was allergic to and what can happen if certain events take place. Did they follow his care plan? The school said they did.”
Karan was allergic to wheat, gluten, all dairy products, eggs and all nuts and even had his own fridge and microwave at the home he shared with his mother and grandfather. He also suffered from atopic eczema and asthma which he controlled with an inhaler. Recalling the moments Karan left home for school, Rina said, “When you say goodbye to your son you do not expect it to be the last goodbye. He said to his granddad, I will see you after school, those were his words.”
Ms Cheema, 51, said she heard that somebody may have rubbed cheese on the back of Karan’s neck but is unaware of what caused him to die. She said, “My son was very popular, this was one particular trouble maker child, but I do not know if it was him. Someone rubbed cheese on the back of his neck but you don’t go into anaphylactic shock from that so we just don’t know what happened, we want answers. I know my son inside out and he was very well trained, the school were fully aware and so were his friends. He read everything he bought, he was a very, very independent, I have made him so aware that he is not to take anything. He used his asthma pump and various creams for his eczema before he went to school from head to toe himself with the medication prescribed by the consultant at Ealing Hospital. He never missed an appointment there. Karan took a packed lunch to school every day, he made his own because last year he got something that was not right so I made him make his own. He had his own fridge and microwave, the kitchen was completely allergen free. “
“He must have ingested something for the reaction to happen, that’s what the consultant at Great Ormond Street told me, he cannot go into anaphylactic shock if something he is allergic to just touches him. We just cannot understand what happened, he was my baby and I trained him to look after himself. He loved life and I was his sole carer, he was my only child and I am empty now.” She said.
Parents of other teenagers at the school said Karan was being bullied and cheese was hidden in his lunch by another pupil. Family friend Humaira Khan said, “Karan was in primary school with my son and used to go to football club and karate class with my son. He was a really good boy. There was a child who was bullying him all the time. He put cheese in his lunch and he did not know about it. Karan had it and then had an allergic reaction.”
On the day Karan was rushed to hospital, another pupil tweeted: ‘How can two idiots in my school stuff cheese down someone’s throat – KNOWING that they’re allergic to it, where’s the logic’. The boy added: ‘The ambulance and POLICE had to be called… he’s in intensive care now.’ Others claimed the cheese was thrown or flicked at Karan and hit him in the mouth. Others said it was put down his shirt. Doctors battled to save the teenager – who wanted to be a computer engineer – but he died in hospital 11 days later with his parents at his bedside.
Just hours after Karan was taken to hospital on Wednesday, June 28, police arrested a fellow pupil at William Perkin Church of England High School after it became apparent that there had been an ‘incident which led to the boy coming into contact with the allergen’. Last night police refused to give details of what caused the allergic reaction because a post-mortem examination had not yet taken place.