Choking is one of the leading causes of death in children, and usually when it happens, parents and guardians only have minutes to respond before the brain is deprived of oxygen, causing irreparable damage to the child.
So imagine the doctors’ surprise when they discovered a plastic toy in this child’s oesophagus that they suspect had been there for at least two weeks.
According to a BBC report, ten-month-old Laith Atiga was crawling at his grandmother’s home, in Berkshire, when he suddenly started coughing.
“I turned to check on him and found that he was struggling to breathe,” his mother Jude said. “He turned blue and started to froth. His eyes started to roll.
Photo credit: BBC News
“Ambulance staff asked me to give him a drink and he seemed to struggle with it, so they decided to take us to hospital because they suspected something was stuck.”
At the hospital, the X-ray came back clear, and although the following day saw the infant unwell and had no appetite, he appeared fine the next day.
Then things took a turn for the worse.
“I tried to feed him, and that’s when I realised something was still seriously wrong,” Jude said. “He chewed his food as usual but very quickly regurgitated it in chewed form.”
Returning to the hospital for another check up, Laith was said to have tonsillitis.
Doctors gave Jude a local anaesthetic to spray at the back of her daughter’s throat to help him swallow.
The mother was skeptical but tried the spray anyway.
“I thought it best to give him a break from solids and started only giving him pureed soups and milkshakes,” she said. ”I continued to do this for two more days.”
But after her son continued to regurgitate food, Jude decided to call his doctor in New York, to which they flew back for more more tests and a meeting with an ENT.
But just like the first time, the tests came back clear.
At a loss for what to do next, the doctors finally decided to check the toddler’s esophagus.
Photo credit: BBC News
“[Eventually] they concluded that if there was something, it must be in the esophagus,” Jude said. “We were admitted, and at 08:00 on Saturday, 13 August, Laith was operated on, and a plastic angel, measuring almost 2cm [0.7in], was found in his oesophagus.”
The whole experience traumatized the mother, saying she shouldn’t have chased after medical providers for answers.
“The duty of care given to children and babies should never be compromised,” she said. “My child should not have had to suffer in such discomfort for as long as he did.”
Little Laith may have been fortunate that the toy didn’t cut off his oxygen, especially having been stuck in his esophagus for as long as it did. However, for some children who instinctively put items in their mouths, they may not be so lucky.
What this highlights is the importance of childproofing the entire house, making sure that toddlers do not get in contact with items that may potentially choke on.
READ: Toddler chokes to death after swallowing Kinder egg toy