Man died from peanut reaction after eating takeaway pizza, inquest hears

A man died from an allergic reaction to nuts one hour after eating a slice of takeaway pizza, an inquest has heard.

James Atkinson, 23, became unwell after eating food ordered from the Newcastle restaurant Dadyal on 10 July 2020.

A Home Office pathologist told the hearing that he died from anaphylaxis as a result of peanut ingestion.

The inquest also heard that Mr Atkinson, originally from Leeds, told paramedics he was about to die before he fell unconscious.

Mr Atkinson, who was a computer programmer living in Jesmond, Newcastle, had ordered a chicken tikka masala pizza, chips and Indian dishes with his flatmate via the delivery app Deliveroo.

He had searched the internet for likely ingredients in certain foods, the inquest was told.

The former Newcastle University student was said to have eaten some chips and less than one slice of the pizza before he realised something was wrong as he became rapidly unwell.

While his flatmate looked for his EpiPen, unsuccessfully, Mr Atkinson rang for an ambulance.

Craig Hassall KC, representing the family, said that when the paramedics arrived, Mr Atkinson reportedly told them as he struggled to breathe that he was going to die.

Home Office pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton outlined the background to her inquiry into his death and said Mr Atkinson was "gasping for air" when the ambulance crew arrived.

By the time he had been helped downstairs, he was assessed to have a Glasgow coma score of three, Dr Bolton said, and was "profoundly unconscious".

Mr Atkinson was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle at 20:40 BST and died at 21:21 BST, despite the help of medics.

Toxicology tests showed he had no alcohol or other drugs in his system at the time and so his decision-making ability was not impaired, the inquest heard.

Dr Bolton said Mr Atkinson was known to be "usually very good" at monitoring his allergies, having been diagnosed with a peanut allergy 10 years earlier.

Examination of the uneaten takeaway food also detected the presence of peanuts, as did analysis of a "nut mix" at the Dadyal restaurant which supplied it, Dr Bolton said.

She gave the cause of death as anaphylaxis following peanut ingestion.

Coroner Karen Dilks asked Dr Bolton if the outcome would have been different had an EpiPen been found to use on Mr Atkinson.

The pathologist said: "Even with the appropriate use of an EpiPen, there's no guarantee that an individual will survive, but it certainly increases your chances."

When Dr Bolton answered Mr Hassall's comment about Mr Atkinson saying he was going to die, she said: "He experienced his difficulty in breathing and he was becoming aware it was getting worse, (and) individuals do sometimes say 'I am going to die'.

"Medically, that is taken very seriously. Everybody is still doing everything they can to stop that being the case, and, to prove the individual wrong."

'Loving, kind, caring'

Mr Atkinson's parents, Jill and Stuart, said their son's "sudden death has left an insurmountable hole in our hearts".

"James had a gift of making others happy, checking in on friends and offering support when needed," they told the hearing.

"To be in his company with his amazing sense of humour and infectious laugh was a privilege.

"First on the dance floor and last to leave, James lived life to its fullest but also had a sensitive and thoughtful side," they continued.

"His whole family meant the world to him. He was loving, kind and caring," they added.

The inquest, which is set to last two weeks, continues.

Source: BBC News