A paramedic testifying at a coroner’s inquest into the death of a U.K. teenager who died of anaphylaxis in an alleged bullying incident said the emergency call from the school about an allergic reaction did not indicate the gravity of the situation.
Kieran Oppatt, the first paramedic to arrive at the school seven minutes later, says he discovered 13-year-old Karanbir Cheema, known as Karan was gasping for air and appeared to be “in a state of pre-arrest.”
Oppatt told the inquest that school staff said: “perhaps someone had chased the patient with cheese and had proceeded to throw it down his shirt,” according to The Telegraph.
When Allergic Living first reported on Karan’s death in 2017, it was unclear whether cheese had been rubbed on Karan, flicked into his face or whether he’d been forced to eat it. Friends said the student had also previously faced bullying at school.
At the time of Karan’s fatal reaction on June 28, 2017, a 13-year-old classmate was arrested at the time on suspicion of attempted murder, but he has not been charged. The detective on the case confirms that the classmate is no longer at the school.
Karan was severely allergic to dairy, eggs, nuts, wheat, had asthma and struggled with eczema. Following are key takeaways from the inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court in London on Sept. 19:
- On June 28, 2017, Karan allegedly had cheese pushed down his T-shirt at William Perkin Church of England High School in west London.
- The emergency call from the school seemed to underestimate how severe Karan’s reaction was, according to Oppatt. The paramedic said the operator was told it was “just an allergic reaction,” not that it was life-threatening.
- Upon arriving at the scene, Oppatt recounted: “[Karan] had very slow respirations and he was gasping for air. He appeared to be suffering from an allergic reaction. His skin was red and there appeared to be hives.”
- School staff had given Karan antihistamine, his inhaler and epinephrine, but the boy went into cardiac arrest.
- Oppatt and another paramedic performed CPR, gave him a dose of adrenaline and used a defibrillator.
- The 13-year-old was transported to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he died 10 days later on July 9, 2017.
- Speaking to the media outside the inquest, his mother, Rina Cheema, described her son Karan as extremely bright. “He knew very well how to manage his condition. I brought him up by myself. I trained him to read all about his condition. We want answers.”
- The inquest is set to resume in November.