Woman Dies After Eating Prawns Despite Knowing She Has A Shellfish Allergy

The state coroner said the incident was a "truly unfortunate misadventure".

Cover image via Discover coast seafood

A 60-year-old Singaporean woman's decision to consume prawns, despite knowing she had shellfish allergy, proved to be a fatal mistake

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The Straits Times reported that Khoo Siew Hong, who lived in a flat with her sister and two helpers, ate prawn dumplings at a restaurant for lunch on 4 March without suffering from any allergic reactions.

On 8 March, she asked to eat some prawns that her helpers had prepared for a laksa lunch and they gave her two pieces.

A few hours later, Khoo started developing a rash and her face began to swell. One of her helpers quickly gave her an antihistamine tablet, which was prescribed by her doctor.

Image via India Mart

Shortly after, Khoo complained of breathlessness and her helper applied medicated oil on her nostrils to help her breathe.

She went limp and the household alerted the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). An officer gave instructions to the helper over the phone, guiding her to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Khoo until the paramedics reached the scene at 3.40pm.

Khoo was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) where she was given 12 doses of adrenaline. Unfortunately, she did not regain consciousness.

She died at about 9.50pm that same day after her family gave consent to take off the ventilator which was keeping her alive.

Doctors found that she died from an accumulation of fluid in her larynx, which was linked to food allergy. Her lungs were congested too.

State Coroner Marvin Bay said the incident was a "truly unfortunate misadventure". He also added that allergic reactions tend to get severe after continuous exposure.

"A single individual may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction, which may have lulled Khoo into a sense of complacency that such episodes could readily be addressed and controlled. Often, the allergic reactions become more severe with each exposure," he said.

The coroner advised people who suffer from shellfish allergies to take precautions seriously

"The only absolute way to prevent shellfish allergy is to avoid all shellfish and all products that contain shellfish. When dining out, it is prudent to ask how the food is prepared, and read food labels carefully," he said.

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