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Woman dies four days after getting engaged when she uses wrong spoon

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A man was left devastated after his fiance died from an allergic reaction just four days after he had proposed while on their dream holiday in South Africa. Craig McKinnon proposed to his girlfriend Jess Prinsloo at God’s Window viewpoint in Mpumalanga on December 27. It is thought Jess, 24 – who had an acute dairy allergy – suffered a fatal reaction after using the wrong spoon to stir her tea.

Craig arrived back in the UK with Jess’s ashes on Monday.

Speaking of the proposal, he said: “Lots of her family live in South Africa and she hadn’t been back in six years, so I knew there was no better place to propose. My voice cracked as I got down on one knee and asked, ‘Will you marry me?’ She said, ‘Oh my God’ and started crying before she said yes. The look on her face… it meant everything.”

The couple celebrated for the next few days with Champagne and “lots of laughter” before heading to Jess’s mum’s house in Johannesburg on December 30.

It was here that Jess came into contact with dairy.

Within seconds, she went into anaphylaxis – a ­potentially fatal reaction causing the throat to close up – and died in hospital the next day, on New Year’s Eve.

Marketing executive Jess always carried two EpiPens in case she suffered anaphylaxis but on this occasion, they failed her. Craig said: “When Jess died, a part of me died too – but there is no one to blame for her passing away.

“But, God, she’d had several near-misses.”

Craig, who works for AA insurance, met Jess at university in 2019 and they moved in together after lockdown in 2021.

On the day she fell ill, he recalled being woken up by Jess’ brother, who said she was having a bad reaction.

Craig said: “Jess was sitting on the toilet lid, really struggling to breathe. She had used an EpiPen, but it wasn’t having the effect it normally has.”

Jess was taken to hospital where doctors fought to save her – to no avail.

Craig believes years of allergic reactions had a cumulative effect on Jess, who had been allergic to dairy since she was nine months old. He recalled Jess telling him how she had to be resuscitated after eating milk in a curry when she was 18.

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And he said: “Another time, she ordered a vegan dessert which shouldn’t have had dairy and she needed antihistamines, an EpiPen and a hospital trip. I haven’t eaten dairy for about three years because it just wasn’t worth the risk.”

Following Jess’ death, Craig, from Salisbury, Wilts, faced medical bills of £3,700 plus £1,200 in coroner’s fees.

His mum and Jess’s brother Darren, 20, launched a GoFundMe page to cover the bills and pay for her funeral in South Africa on January 6.

He said: “It is something people cannot control and it can kill them. I just want people to listen and understand how serious this is.”

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