Kareem Bacchus (DOD: 9/18/2007)
Kareem Bacchus was a 17 year old freshman at Indiana University when he perished from his food allergy in September 2007. It was Parent’s Weekend and he had eaten out at a restaurant. He ordered the chicken but his companions ordered seafood, something he was allergic to, and likely his meal was grilled with his companion’s meal leading to cross contamination.
After the meal, he went with his roommate to play tennis when he became ill. He became very sick rapidly and his friends carried him back to the dorm where 911 was called. He was not given epinephrine prior to EMS arrival.
In addition to seafood, he had other food allergies including milk and nuts. His mother, Ann Bacchus, reported that he was very careful with his meal selection, that he knew what to avoid and what he could have. His family even shipped food to him at his school. They discussed his medical issues with the college, his teachers and his roommate. They talked about putting him in a home, off campus, where he could manage his own meals but he wanted to be like the other students and live on campus. The family spent a lot of time managing his food allergies because they were complex.
He had asthma which was diagnosed around 18 months. His food allergies declared themselves around age 2. His mom learned about asthma and actively worked to strengthen his lungs via swimming. He eventually became a diver. ‘Kareem did everything the doctors said he would not be able to do’.
He had one prior allergic reaction at school. His mom noted that they talked daily but one day he did not pick up his phone. He had left his phone on a bus due to a food-induced allergic reaction. He had spaghetti, likely contaminated with dairy, and developed tongue swelling which he tried to manage on his own. When his mother finally tracked him down in the hospital, he told his mom not to worry, that he was managing it and that he would be OK. His mom told him that ‘they could fix anything if he was alive to do so’.
Kareem was an ‘amazing young man’. He was very kind to all, was a black belt in karate and was a ‘singing life-guard’. He was the kind of friend who would share his lunch, saying his mom must have accidentally packed two meals, in order for someone else not to go hungry. He loved Christmas, enjoyed the decorating and would buy his mom a special ornament every year. He received a scholarship to go to IU and loved it. He was a floor monitor there. ‘He was beautiful inside and out’ shared his mom.
From His Mom
The bond between mother and son lasts a lifetime
The bond between mother and son is a special one.
It remains unchanged by time or distance
It is the purest love - unconditional and true.
It is understanding of any situation and forgiving of any mistake…