Anaphylaxis Takes Life of College Freshman with Nut Allergy, a Standout in School and His Community


The community is grieving the loss of Omar Osman, a nineteen-year-old college freshman at Bowdoin College, who passed away last week according to letters written by the president of Bowdoin and the superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools where he attended high school.

Omar had a severe nut allergy and was apparently exposed to an allergen of concern. Paramedics rushed him to a nearby hospital but he died on the way despite their efforts. It is unknown whether he carried an epinephrine auto-injector and if so, whether he administered it or whether the paramedics carried and administered the drug.

Omar was known as a top student who wanted to give back to his community.

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Wrote Clayton Rose, President of Bowdoin, to students and staff:

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, to parents of Somali descent, Omar was a first-generation American and first-generation college student. At Bowdoin, he was a Questbridge and Geoffrey Canada Scholar and an active participant in the THRIVE program. A graduate of Lewiston High School (LHS), Omar was a member of the National Honor Society, the student government vice president, and a member of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council, Model United Nations, and Art Club, among involvement in other activities. He was part of the LHS Equity Resource Team working to increase equity and diversity and was also a mural painter who created and painted murals of all kinds at the school, with the aim of giving LHS its own unique style. Omar loved science and, in just three short months at Bowdoin, he had developed a keen interest in information technology and planned to major in computer science. Of his bigger dreams, he wrote, “I want to be someone anyone and everyone can rely on and can know that I will always be there to help.”

This is a sudden and unimaginable loss for Omar’s parents, his two sisters, and his entire family. Our hearts go out to them, to Omar’s classmates and friends, and to everyone in the Bowdoin community who is feeling his loss.

K Jake Langlais, Superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools, wrote the following:

It is with a heavy heart that we share the loss of Omar Osman – graduate from the class of 2022. Omar was a kind soul that made a positive impact on so many people in our community and beyond. His ability to lead by example while his humble personality shined was second to none. He was a student representative to the School Committee through the pandemic. Omar was vice president of his class. He was a leader in robotics competitions, coding the equipment for rebuild after rebuild. He was a proactive learner as he excelled in his courses. He attended Bowdoin College on a full scholarship for being a standout academically, a tireless giver to others, and simply a great young man. He was so
much more than we can articulate. We will miss him.

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We at send our heartfelt condolences to the Osman family, who have lost their son and brother, and we wish them much solace and support in the coming days. The food allergy community mourns his loss.

As we do when reporting such tragedies, we look for learning opportunities to help others avoid similar outcomes as they cope with their own food allergies. In this case, we have little information regarding Omar’s exposure and the actions taken by him and others prior to his death, so we will provide some basics here.

Anaphylaxis is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance. Avoidance of the trigger allergen is the only way to prevent reactions and anaphylaxis. When exposure does occur and anaphylaxis manifests, there is only one drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis: epinephrine.

Everyone diagnosed with an allergy and prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector — commonly referred to by the brand name “EpiPen” — should always take two auto-injectors with them everywhere they go, every time, and should administer the drug as soon as they suspect anaphylaxis, then call emergency services.

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Why carry two? In case the first dose is insufficient to stop the progression of anaphylaxis. Why administer it as soon as you suspect anaphylaxis? Because the earlier you administer the drug, the better the outcome. Why call 911 after? It’s not because epinephrine is a dangerous drug — it’s because some anaphylactic reactions are biphasic, meaning they may be followed by subsequent reactions even after the first has been successfully treated.

Epinephrine is a lifeline when the unthinkable happens. Don’t leave yours at home.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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