A Lancashire man has died after eating a fishcake so hot it burned his throat.
Professional wedding planner Darren Hickey, 51, had been sampling food at a wedding venue in Chorley on April 4 when a chef gave him a fishcake to try. His voicebox proceeded to swell to the point where he couldn’t breathe or swallow.
Darren knew something was seriously wrong as the pain worsened, and went to Chorley Hospital’s Urgent Care Ward for help. However, he was sent home with paracetamol and advised to return if the pain grew worse.
Upon returning to his home in Bolton to rest, Darren’s swelling continued to get more intense and – at approximately 9pm – his partner Neil Parkinson heard him choking and coughing.
He shouted so I ran upstairs. He was stood up choking and coughing so I banged his back but then he slid forward onto the floor.
Darren was taken to hospital, however the damage was so far down his throat it couldn’t even be seen without the use of specialist equipment. Darren died at midnight that same evening, with his cause of death recorded as asphyxiation.
Bolton Coroners’ Court heard how a full review would be carried out into Darren’s death, which has been ruled as accidental.
A pathologist has described this case as being very rare; noting such damage is normally associated with those who have inhaled smoke during house fires.
Dr Patrick Waugh said:
The patient can appear well, they will be talking to you, but then the swelling starts.
Acting senior coroner Alan Walsh said:
I believe there are enormous lessons to be learned.
This was caused by eating a fishcake, very small and very hot but with catastrophic consequences. I find this an immense tragedy.
Speaking after the inquest, Neil described his partner as having been ‘a larger than life character’:
Darren was a larger than life character, always helping other people and was the centre of attention.
He would take over a room if he walked in. He did loads for charity and was well liked in the community.
Darren had suffered a stroke seven years ago, which resulted in him spending 18 months in hospital. After being discharged, he dedicated himself to charity work, even receiving the Inspirational Person of Courage Award from the Stroke Association for his efforts.
Mr Walsh said:
He was enormously positive and enormously caring and gave to charity – he was a very generous, caring and compassionate man. He was a remarkably strong and resilient man to overcome that stroke.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Darren Hickey at this difficult time.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.