After protein shake kills son, mother calls for warning labels on sports drinks in UK

A deadly reaction was triggered causing 'irreversible brain damage' to the boy


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Published: Fri 18 Aug 2023, 12:48 PM

The mother of the 16-year-old teenager, who died after consuming a protein shake in 2020 in London, has called for health warning signs on the drinks to prevent such accidents, media reported.

Rohan Godhania, who lived in Ealing in west London, had fallen ill after he drank a protein shake on August 15, 2020. The teenager died three days later at West Middlesex Hospital after suffering “irreversible brain damage”, according to the Mirror.

The cause of Rohan’s death was, however, identified only months after his death when the recipient of his liver was admitted to a hospital, the report added.

Rohan, whose kidney and liver had been donated, was then diagnosed with a rare disorder called ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, which prevents the breakdown of ammonia, causing it to accumulate to dangerous levels in the bloodstream. The condition can be triggered by a large amount of protein. In Rohan’s case, he had consumed a protein shake, the report stated.

Now, Rohan’s mother, Pushpa Godhania, 57, has said that protein drinks should carry warning signs so that no one dies “unnecessarily”, reported BBC.

“They should put a warning on there that if anybody ends up vomiting as a result of [drinking] it and starts feeling unwell they should immediately get emergency attention,” said Godhania.

She added, “If we just say 'if you feel very sick and you're vomiting as a result of this, ask for an ammonia test' - put it into some very simple language - that would help”.


According to Pushpa Godhania, her son was treated for encephalitis and meningitis after being admitted to West Middlesex Hospital as doctors thought that his condition had something to do with his brain, the report added.

An inquest was conducted into Rohan’s death last month which revealed that the teenager died after drinking a protein shake “triggered an acute reaction”, reported The Independent.

As per the findings of the inquest, advice was sought from neurologists at Charing Cross Hospital who suggested that Rohan should undergo an ammonia test. However, the test was not conducted, according to Sky News.

“I find that Rohan suffered from OTC deficiency that was unknown to him and his family at the time. His hyperammonemia and OTC deficiency were not diagnosed,” senior coroner Tom Osborne told Sky News.

“The failure to carry out a test for ammonia that would have revealed the hyperammonemia resulted in a lost opportunity to render further medical treatment that may, on the balance of probabilities, have prevented his death,” Osborne was quoted as saying.

After the conclusion of the inquest, Rohan’s mother told the PA news agency, “The key message is ammonia testing is really important and I believe that it is not just for rare conditions, there’s other conditions that they’re missing, there’s a whole lot of conditions that affect the liver and kidneys, although I’m not an expert”.

She stressed that “a lot of people are dying unnecessarily” because of a lack of knowledge about health conditions.

“Meningitis, encephalitis, those are usually on the radar of emergency departments, they do miss them sometimes but those things are considered, but doing an ammonia test and metabolic disorders, there seems to be a reluctance (to do the tests),” Pushpa Godhania added.

On her son’s death, Pushpa Godhania told the news agency, “I don’t think anyone ever gets over the loss of their child”. The mother added that she often gets “quite tearful” thinking about Rohan and shared that she has kept his bedroom “exactly as it is with all his school clothes, all his books, his shoes are in his shoe draws”.

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