A senior health official, on Tuesday, 27 June, called for 'life-saving' warning signs to be added to protein drinks citing the death of Rohan Godhania, an Indian-origin teenager, in 2020.
Godhania, a 16-year-old boy from West London, suffered a rare brain condition after consuming a protein shake on 15 August 2020.
He was admitted to the West Middlesex Hospital where he lost his life three days later due to 'irreversible brain damage'.
How Did This Happen?
According to Rohan's father, he had brought the protein shake to help his son build muscle since he was 'quite skinny'.
Upon consumption, Rohan was initially fine, however, later, in the afternoon, he complained of a stomach ache, reported The Mirror.
"He didn’t have anything else to eat and a little later on in the early evening he vomited a few times. Again, there was nothing concerning."Pushpa Godhania as quoted by The Mirror
He was rushed to the hospital and his health continued to deteriorate.
It was found that the sudden spike in protein triggered a rare genetic condition called ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency which causes the breakdown of ammonia in the blood stream, resulting in lethal levels of the chemical in the teenager's bloodstream.
What Are UK Officials Saying?
"Concerning these protein drinks, my preliminary view about them is that I ought to write to one of the regulatory authorities that some sort of warning ought to be put on the packaging of these drinks because, although OTC is a rare condition, it can have harmful effects if someone drinks (one) and it causes a protein spike," senior Coroner, Tom Osborne, told BBC.
Further, Finbar O’Callaghan, Professor of Paediatric Neurology at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, also agreed that intervention was required because it can be 'potentially life-saving'.
What Is OTC?
Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency is a rare X-linked genetic disorder marked by the complete or partial lack of the enzyme ornithine transcarbamylase, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
The enzyme is responsible for the detoxification of ammonia which is formed when protein is broken down in the body.
If sufficient levels of OT are not present in the bloodstream, ammonia can build up to toxic levels potentially causing neurological impairments and eventual liver damage, according to experts at the Boston Children's Hospital.
Godhania's family lawyers, during an inquest at the Milton Keynes Coroner's Court in Buckinghamshire, questioned if his death could have been avoided if he was screened for ammonia when he was brought in to the hospital.
Gene therapy trials are a possible treatment option for the disease.
(Written with inputs from Metro UK and BBC)