60 year-old Ms Khoo Siew Hong died of a severe allergic reaction to shellfish after she ate some prawns prepared by her helpers despite knowing she was allergic to them.
State Coroner Marvin Bay declared her death a “truly unfortunate misadventure” in court yesterday, stating that food allergies should be taken seriously because allergic reactions could vary in symptoms and severity between different individuals.
Ms Khoo, who was unemployed and uses a wheelchair to get around, lived with her sister and 2 helpers in a flat at Lorong 3 Geylang. On 8 March, Ms Khoo ate 2 prawns that her maids were preparing for her laksa, but soon developed itchiness about 2 and a half hours later. To halt the allergic reaction, Ms Khoo got one of her helpers to give her an antihistamine tablet prescribed to her by a doctor from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
5 minutes after that, Ms Khoo’s face developed a rash. The rash worsened, and after 20 minutes, Ms Khoo complained of breathlessness. Despite the efforts of her helper to apply some medicated oil on her nostrils, Ms Khoo went limp and the helper called Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
Her helper performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Ms Khoo with the help of an SCDF officer on the phone until paramedics arrived at 3.40PM.
Ms Khoo arrived at hospital and was given 12 doses of adrenaline, but never regained consciousness. With consent from her family, she was taken off her ventilatyor and died at 9.50PM.
The cause of her death was found to be a severe allergic reaction linked to a food allergy. She had accumulated fluid in her larynx and her lungs were congested.