"Help me, I can't breathe" - harrowing last words of Wigan student after allergic reaction

Shahida Shahid
Shahida Shahid
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Tearful students told how their friend with a dairy allergy fell ill and collapsed "very very suddenly" after eating a burger marinated in butter milk.


The girls night out ended in tragedy when former Winstanley College student Shahida Shahid, 18, suffered a fatal allergic reaction to her meal, begging: "Help me, I can't breathe," Manchester Coroner's Court heard.

Shahida, who the inquest jury have heard was always careful about what she ate, discussed the menu and her allergies with the waiter at Almost Famous burger restaurant in Manchester city centre, before eating her meal.

But after leaving the restaurant the teenager, studying a masters in mathematics at Manchester University, suddenly became seriously unwell from the allergic reaction.

She suffered severe brain damage "not compatible with life" and died in hospital on January 12 2015, three days after eating the burger.

Shahida, from Worsley, Salford, was with four college friends who met up on the evening of January 9 2015, over the Christmas holidays to discuss their first term after each starting university.

Lauren Davies said they had been out for a meal lots of times and every time Shahida would discuss with the waiter what she could eat due to her allergies.

At the restaurant Shahida ordered an Awesome Fricken Chicken Sandwich, the order taken by waiter and bartender Reiss Balfour.

Miss Davies said: "Shahida went first because she always asked about what she can have and what she's allergic to. She is there longer than all of us and asked for advice.

"He went to talk to someone because I don't think he was sure and I think he came back and said she could have this but without the coleslaw and sauce.

"I definitely heard her talk about her allergies."

After the meal they walked to the Printworks complex of bars where Shahida went from "laughing and joking" to feeling unwell and sat down outside a bar.

Miss Davies continued: "She just told me she felt hot. I went to crouch down to see if she was ok.

"She was quite sweaty and started saying she was quite itchy. I think she was scratching her arms and legs and at one point she said she was having an allergic reaction.

"I was trying to keep her calm and she told us to get her epi-pen out of her bag."

Another friend Hollie Blaydes said Shahida had previously shown them how to use her epi-pen in case of emergency, and another friend Nahla Halabi, jabbed her with the device in the right upper thigh over her clothes to deliver the medicine.

However the epi-pen, which the inquest heard was "just" out of date, did not have any effect.

Security guards working at the venue, Imran Farooqi and Avais Ali, then came over to help.

Mr Farooqi said Shahida's face and neck became swollen and he thought she had suffered an anaphylactic shock.

He said: "Her face was going purple, she was scratching herself vigorously.

"I grabbed hold of her and I heard a, 'Help' sort of thing come out. We tried everything we could do for this young girl."

Shahida was put into recovery position and Mr Ali began CPR, the teenager repeatedly vomiting as Mr Imran continued attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Mr Ali said before Shahida lost consciousness she was asked about a possible allergic reaction.

But Mr Ali said she replied: "That's not the issue because I clearly told the waiter. It can't be that."

He said that shortly after, Shahida said: "Please help me, I'm struggling to breathe."

He added: "She kind of fainted and started frothing from her mouth."

An ambulance was called but paramedic Matthew Shenck said Shahida was not breathing and there was no heart activity detected.

The hearing continues.