My son’s deadly ketchup allergy

My son’s deadly ketchup allergy

by -
Sell My Story features editor Helen O'Brien


Toddler extreme reaction to tomatoes

Kasi, 24, was delighted when son Ruben was born – but doctors couldn’t explain why her baby soon developed agonising sores all over his body. Then disaster struck when her older son, Craig, realised Ruben’s face had swollen up and he couldn’t breathe. He was rushed to hospital and revived. Doctors discovered Ruben has a severe tomato allergy – and that his extreme attack was caused by a ‘harmless’ bottle of ketchup. We helped Kasi to sell her story to Real People magazine, and followed up with coverage in the Sun, Mirror and Metro newspapers and on the Daily Mail website.

Kasi with her son Ruben who is allergic to ketchup
Kasi and her son Ruben

When Ruben arrived in January 2012, my husband Wayne and I were over the moon. We already had two kids, Faith, five, and Craig, four, and couldn’t wait to add to our brood. To me, Ruben looked absolutely perfect – but soon I began to notice he was developing agonising sores all over his body. We went to our GP, who said Ruben had eczema  – but nothing seemed to make the problem any better. Some creams would work for a few days, only for things to return to normal. Ruben was in so much pain – his sores would ooze so much pus, his clothes would stick to his body and he was always tearful and itchy. It broke my heart seeing him so sore and I wished there was something I could do to take his pain away – but nothing seemed to work. Then eventually, I started monitoring his diet and realised his sores seemed to get worse when he ate anything with tomatoes in it.

One evening in August last year, I was preparing dinner for the kids and I noticed that Ruben had touched a bit of tomato ketchup. I wiped it off his hands and thought nothing more of it. But a few hours later, after we’d put the kids to bed, Wayne and I heard Craig shouting for us. The next thing I knew, Wayne came running downstairs with Ruben in his arms. I thought I was going to vomit at the sight of my precious baby – his face had swollen up completely and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth. I shook violently as I dialled 999 and the next few minutes passed in a blur as Ruben was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Thankfully, the doctors managed to revive him but it was a close call – if Craig hadn’t noticed his little brother had fallen ill, Ruben might not have been here today. Doctors later explained that Ruben had experienced such a severe reaction to the ketchup that he’d gone into anaphylactic shock. Nine months on, I’m terrified of what will happen if Ruben accidentally touches something with tomatoes in it. I make him separate dinners every night and I can’t take my eyes off him when we’re in the kitchen. Most mums serve up ketchup with every meal, so knowing just a dollop could kill my boy is terrifying. But, despite this, my little fighter still has a smile on his face.

By Helen O’Brien Google


Kasi wanted to sell her story to raise awareness for other mums. If you want to sell a health story to a magazine or newspaper, get in touch with us using the contact form on the right.