The mother of severely allergic schoolboy who died after a pupil threw cheese at him has spoken for the first time about her son’s death.
Rina Cheema, 53, said she regretted not having hugged her 13-year-old son Karanbir, known as Karan, and not telling him how much she loved him before he set off for school the day the tragedy happened.
Karan went from feeling ‘absolutely fine’ to falling unconscious in less than ten minutes after a piece of cheese was put down his collar at William Perkin Church of England High School in Greenford, west London.
He was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital where doctors placed him into an induced coma, but he died ten days later when his parents decided to withdraw the drugs keeping him alive.
Rina told a direct source that at the end of the inquest that she is still struggling to understand how those mindless actions led to the death of her only child.
She said: “How could something like this have happened at school? It’s the one place where he should have been safe.”
Rina said she is still tormented by Karan’s final conscious moments when he clawed at neck so much he made his skin bleed.
Within ten minutes, he ripped off his shirt, screamed and thumped his chest while telling staff: “I’m going to die.”
She said: “I felt this overwhelming sense of horror.”
Karan died of an unprecedented allergic reaction after classmates threw a piece of cheese on his face.
The teenager who ‘flicked’ cheese at Karan told the inquest from behind a screen he was only ‘playing around’ and thought he was allergic only to bread.
The 15-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, apologised and said: “I didn’t mean any harm. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
But Rina found it hard to forgive him as Karan was her “absolute world”.
She also said the boy should have been charged with manslaughter and punished for his sheer stupidity.
Rina and Karan’s father, Amarjeet, divorced when Karan was just six months old and she has since been living with her son at home in Perivale, west London.
Rina described her son as a teenager ‘full of life and always laughing’ and was adored by his cousins, uncles and aunts.
Rina questioned how a small piece of cheese could have caused a ‘catastrophic’ damage to her son if it had lightly touched his neck.
Last Friday Dr Adam Fox, paediatric allergy consultant at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, told the inquest how he could find no previous case where a skin reaction to a dairy product had cause death.
He said: “Where this case is extraordinarily unusual is the nature of the event that led to the anaphylaxis.
“Because severe allergic reactions through skin contact are very very uncommon indeed, and if it was skin contact alone that caused, in this case fatal, anaphylaxis, I believe that to be unprecedented.
“I have been unable to find any case reports. I’ve canvassed widely around this and I’m not aware of any fatal cases.”
He told St Pancras Coroner’s Court there were cases of other children having severe reactions through skin contact, but none of them died.
Karan was more likely to have a severe reaction because he was male, of Asian origin, a teenager and had hay fever .
But Rina was more appalled when she found out ‘valuable time’ was lost from the beginning when the incident happened.
Karan was told to fill out an incident form as teachers treated it as a ‘minor misdemeanour’ rather than a medical emergency.
Rina believes that until immediate action is taken by schools, the risk of future deaths is all too real.
She said: “I can’t get Karan back, but I don’t want any other parent to go through what I’m going through.