Witnesses have broken down at the inquest of a gifted teenage university student's inquest after she became fatally ill after consuming a chicken burger.
Shahida Shahid's condition deteriorated after eating a chicken burger which had been cooked in buttermilk at a restaurant in Manchester, the inquest heard.
The 18-year-old from Worsley, Salford, had a dairy allergy and had previously needed to have urgent treatment at a restaurant in Birmingham after a previous violent reaction, the court was told.
Shahida was out with friends when she became suddenly ill and collapsed, just minutes after the meal at Almost Famous.
A friend administered her epi-pen to combat the allergic reaction and she was rushed to hospital.
Shahida died in hospital on January 12 2015, three days after eating at the restaurant, the inquest at Manchester Coroner’s Court heard.
Sally Hadfield, assistant deputy coroner for Manchester, outlined the case to the jury of the six women and five men at the start of the hearing, expected to last eight days.
Shahida’s family, her mother and brother, represented by lawyers, sat at the back of the court, behind more lawyers for the restaurant and Manchester City Council, responsible for inspecting restaurants, reports the MEN.
The court heard Shahida was in her first year studying a masters in mathematics.
She went out for a meal with friends in over the Christmas holidays to discuss their first term at university.
While at Almost Famous she ordered and ate the chicken burger that had been marinated in butter milk.
The coroner continued: “We will hear evidence she gave a description of her allergies and hear from some witnesses as to what the restaurant did with that information.
“She ate the chicken burger and at the time did not feel any effect but walked up towards the Printworks at around 8pm that evening and suddenly then the effect of her allergy became apparent.
“She began to feel ill and collapsed.”
Lauren Davies cried as she described how she held her close friend Shahida’s hand when an allergic reaction began, after they had gone to the Printworks.
Imran Farooqi, a security guard told the inquest how he tried to save Shahida after she began struggling to breathe outside the bar Norwegian Blue.
On the second day of the Manchester coroner’s inquest, her friends described how they went into the city centre by train for a meal to celebrate their first term at university.
They all went to the bar to order their food and Shahida told barman Reiss Balfour she was allergic to dairy, nut and fish, the jurors were told.
Mr Balfour appeared to be uncertain at first but, after consulting with colleagues, told Shahida she could have the burger but not the coleslaw or the sauce, it was said.
The inquest heard that Shahida’s allergies had been noted on the receipt for the meal.
Shahida ate the burger and left the bun but collapsed within an hour, after the friends had made their way to Norwegian Blue.
Sobbing, Shahida’s friend Lauren Davies described how she deteriorated in front of her outside the bar even after another friend administered her Epipen, which delivers adrenaline to tackle severe allergic reactions.
“She was scratching her arms and legs. I think at one point she said I think I have had an allergic reaction. I was just crouching down, talking to her and trying to keep her calm, holding her hand. She told us to get the Epipen from her bag,” Ms Davies said.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose (allergic rhinitis)
- itchy, red, watering eyes (conjunctivitis)
- wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
- a raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
- swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
- tummy pain, feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhoea
- dry, red and cracked skin
In rare cases, an allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening.
This affects the whole body and usually develops within minutes of exposure to something you're allergic to.
Signs of anaphylaxis include any of the symptoms above, as well as:
- swelling of the throat and mouth
- difficulty breathing
- blue skin or lips
- collapsing and losing consciousness
Ms Davies told the inquest she ‘wasn’t worried’ about Shahida ordering her food at the restaurant.
At the bar, although the group were chatting, Ms Davies said she recalled Shahida speaking to the waiter about her allergies.
”She definitely explained to the waiter what she was allergic to and asked for advice,” said Ms Davies.
She continued: “I don’t think I heard all of the conversation. I wasn’t involved in the conversation but I did overhear her saying what she was allergic to.”
Referring to the barman who took the order, Ms Davies said: “He went to talk to someone. I don’t think he was sure and then he came back, I think.”
Imran Farooqi, a security guard who tended to Shahida at the Printworks that night, broke down in court as he described trying to save her.
The special constable said: “She was just finding it difficult to breathe. Her appearance was deteriorating. She was getting pale in her face.
“I’ve knelt down and looked at Shahida and requested over the radio for the cameras to be put on Norwegian Blue because she doesn’t look well. She was sat down.
“One of her friends said she was finding it hard to breathe. I started speaking to Shahida. You could see her face was going paler.
“She was scratching herself vigorously. It was hard to control her. She grabbed hold of me and was crying for help.”
Mr Farooqi paused and began to cry quietly in the witness box.
He continued: “Being a father with a daughter of a similar age, my father role just kicked in before you know it. She was gasping for air. Her stomach was bloated.
“Me and my colleague put her in the recovery position and then I shouted for assistance, and asked to get the defibrillator down.”
Mr Farooqi said he took it in turns to carry out CPR with a fellow security guard, the inquest heard.
Asked if he thought she was responding to treatment, he said: “To be quite truthful, there was no recovery in her. We just followed the instructions of the defibrillator. I think it was 20 minutes we were doing CPR.”
Emma Tattersall, who had known Shahida from the age of three, recalled how Shahida appeared to have been crying when she started having her allergic reaction against the wall of Norwegian Blue bar.
Asked if her friend had been crying, Ms Tattersall said: “She did look really red, maybe puffy. I can’t be sure but yes. Shahida also began scratching herself vigorously.
“She was proper scratching around her legs. The security guards had to hold her arms to stop her from doing it”, she said.