When Craig McKinnon asked his girlfriend Jess Prinsloo, 24, to marry him, it was the happiest day of his life. In an idyllic setting, the two lovers had just got engaged and were thinking about their future together.
But, just four days later, as their wonderful holiday in South Africa continued, the love of her life died after an acute allergic reaction to dairy products…
A perfect time
The couple had just completed their first week of a dream holiday in South Africa when, on December 27, 2022, Craig asked Jess to marry him from God’s Window viewpoint in Mpumalanga. “A lot of her family lives in South Africa and she hadn’t been back for six years so I knew there was no better place to propose,” Craig told the Mirror newspaper. “My voice broke when I knelt down,” he explained. “She said ‘Oh my God’ and started crying before saying yes,” he added, moved.
A dramatic reaction
Over the next few days, the newly engaged couple celebrated the news with champagne and “lots of laughs” before heading to Jess’ mother’s home in Johannesburg on December 30. This is where the unthinkable happened. The young woman, who suffers from an acute dairy allergy, uses the wrong spoon to stir her tea. Within seconds, she goes into anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction causing her throat to close.
A struggle to breathe
Craig remembered being woken up by the young woman’s brother explaining to him that she had had a bad reaction. “She was sitting on the toilet lid really struggling to breathe. She had used an EpiPen, but it didn’t have the effect it normally has,” he commented. Hospitalized in emergency, she died the next day, New Year’s Eve. “When Jess died, a part of me died too,” confided Craig. “There is no one to blame for her death,” he added, devastated at the thought of facing life without her.
Craig and Jess had met at university in 2019. After the confinement, the couple had moved in together in 2021. It was not the first time that Jess had allergic reactions. Craig also thinks that years of reactions have ended up having a cumulative effect on Jess, who has been allergic to dairy products since the age of nine months. He remembered Jess telling him how she had to be resuscitated after eating milk in a curry when she was 18.
Educate the public about allergies
After the death of his fiancee, Craig had to deal with medical bills of 4,200 euros and more than 1,300 euros in funeral expenses. Jess’ mother and brother, Darren, 20, have started a GoFundMe page to cover the bills and pay for his funeral in South Africa on January 6, 2023. However, Craig is planning another ceremony in the UK, the young man had recently returned home with Jess’s ashes. Preparing to face life without it, he now wants to educate people about allergies. “I just want people to listen and understand how serious this is,” he concluded.