It was 11:30, June 28th 2017 when everything changed for Karanbir Singh Cheema. He was 13 years old. Only 13 when 2 fellow classmates were involved in flicking a piece of cheese at him triggering his dairy allergy causing an anaphylactic reaction so severe he, unfortunately, passed away 10 days later at Great Ormond Street hospital. He was a child described by his family as being so bright, “he could have been anything he wanted.” And he wasn’t a child who negligent with his health either, someone who didn’t take precautions to protect himself from an allergic reaction, rather he had been known to introduce himself to him with, “Hi, my name is Karan and I am allergic to Dairy and Pollen.”
There were 2 main issues in this story:
1.Inadequate Medical Attention:
A month ago, during the inquest hearing, the corner; Mary Hassells gave a very powerful and poignant statement, not only about the medical facts of the case but of who, in her opinion, shares responsibility. In her statement, she holds the school with a significant amount of accountability for the fatal incident as they failed to raise awareness among their student body of the serious nature of Karan’s allergies and the care and safeguards that they should take to ensure he avoids contact with his allergens. Further, she points out that the pupils that were involved in the incident did not intend to cause serious harm and were oblivious to the potential consequences supporting the notion that there was a missed opportunity by the school to properly educate their students about allergy care.
After all the dust has settled we are left with 2 painful tragedies. On one hand, we have a bright, friendly and charming boy, full of potential and just at the start of his life, gone from this world forever, after an incident that in its wake leaves many questions of- what if?!?!? More-so he leaves behind a family with a gaping hole in their hearts and grief that seems to fill their whole world.
On the other hand, we have 2 boys. Two, 13-year-old boys, who have to live every day of the rest of their lives knowing that they unintentionally killed a fellow classmate. They didn’t know that when they pulled the trigger, the bullet was made out of cheese. They didn’t know that one, childish, silly act of food throwing in a lunchroom could end with such deadly consequences. This wasn’t a bad dare gone wrong- it wasn’t even immature alcohol activity, it was lunchtime.
Had they known, had they realised, been educated- just a little bit more- this entire tragedy could have been prevented.
And that’s the most painful part- that it was preventable.
Parents of children have been calling for a long time now for schools to properly educate their child’s classmates about their allergies, asking for the school medical team to be updated with proper allergy emergency procedure. About one-third of children with allergies have reported being bullied about their condition. Bullied- about allergies, a condition they can’t control, have live restrictedly because of and could have serious consequences for their health and wellbeing.
The reason they are being bullied is not that their classmates are bad kids, but because their classmates just don’t understand. They don’t understand why there is one kid in the class who always seems to ruin a pizza party, or stops them from a trip to a cheese factory. Why the whole class has to adapt around one classmate who seems to take the teachers attention away from them just to be ‘the teacher’s pet.”
As depressing as it seems to be, action only seems to occur after a tragedy like this one, with administrators now realising that playing a more active role in the allergy education of their schools is not just the ‘right thing to do’ but their duty for the protection of all their student body and a potentially life and death situation.
Let’s join together, making a force that can’t be ignored, parents of children with allergies and those without- united together working toward the common goal- t ensure that each child will come home safely at the end of the day to his family.
So we are not just left with the words of two, 13-year-old boys- “I’m sorry for what I did.”
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA