A two-year-old boy was left fighting for his life after he choked on peanuts during a family trip – and he’s now been dubbed a “walking miracle”.
Mum Grace Healy looked on in horror as her son David began coughing and choking after “stuffing” peanuts into his mouth.
She began smacking him on the back but he still couldn’t breathe and was starting to turn blue in the face.
Grace, a nurse from Douglas in Co Cork, Ireland, then started performing CPR on the toddler in a desperate bid to save his life as he went “completely limp and unresponsive”, CorkBeo reported.
After she rushed him to hospital, doctors found four whole peanuts and fragments in his left lung.
David underwent several operations and spent 18 days in intensive care, but is now recovering at home and in good health.
Doctors say he is lucky to be alive.
The family were on a trip to Co Kerry when David had his brush with death.
Grace said: “David picked up a large bag of peanuts and was stuffing them into his mouth. He’s tends to be an overeater in general and completely stuffs his mouth with food.
“I said to my husband that we need to take the bag of peanuts away because he stuffing so many in his mouth and will choke if he continues to eat them the way he was.
“I preempted that he would cry if I tried to take the bag off him, so I offered him some choc choc if I could take the bag.
“Well he began to cry, but before he tried to cry he inhaled and took the biggest breath of his life in.
“Cue the coughing, I said he’s choking, turned him around and did five back slaps. Loads of peanuts fell out of his mouth and on the floor.
“But he still couldn’t breathe and was turning blue quite quickly even after the back slaps so I made my husband call 999 and I continued to do another couple of cycles of backslaps but his colour was worsening so I did a few cycles more mixed with chest compressions.
“Then my worst fear, he went completely limp and unresponsive.
“I made my husband hang up from 999 and drive me to Kerry General Hospital as I didn’t want to waste time waiting on an ambulance.”
David was transferred from the hospital in Tralee to Crumlin Hospital in Dublin, where doctors performed a life-saving operation.
Grace said: “David’s oxygen levels were dropping rapidly. In Crumlin he had a chest X-ray which showed no air entry into his left lung so was rushed to theatre.
“An ENT consultant Mr Russell was called over from Temple street hospital to help with David’s case and we are so grateful because he saved David’s life.
“He told us that it was the most difficult case in his entire 23 years of surgery and that they nearly lost him many times in theatre.
“They found four whole peanuts in his left lung and other peanut fragments. He just kept repeating how lucky he was to survive the surgery.”
She added: “A couple of days later they weaned him off his ventilator and he was breathing without the tube. The doctors were sure he was doing well and transferred him back onto a main ward.
“He lasted three hours on the ward before he was rushed back to the ICU and placed back on the ventilator again. He deteriorated rapidly and the right lung now was failing.
“Another surgery and 11 days on a ventilator with more complications than I can go into, he was woken and breathing on his own.”
David recovered in hospital and after 18 days he was released.
Grace said: “A full recovery thank god. It’s amazing that he has no cognitive impairment. All the times he went without oxygen he’s a walking miracle.
“We can’t believe he is home and healthy. We are so lucky.
“Please, please learn CPR and keep your skills updated. It could make the difference to your child or somebody else’s child’s life.”
In the UK, the NHS tells parents not to give whole nuts and peanuts to children under five because they can choke on them.
Nuts and peanuts can be given to a child from around six months old – providing they are not allergic – as long as they’re crushed, ground or a smooth nut or peanut butter.
What to do if a child is choking
A child who is choking may be clutching at their chest or neck and won’t be able to speak, breathe or cough, the Red Cross says.
It offers the following advice to help a child who is choking.
1. Back blows
Give up to five back blows firmly between the shoulder blades to create a strong vibration and pressure in the airway which could help to dislodge the blockage.
2. Abdominal thrusts
If the object isn’t dislodged by the back blows, give up to five abdominal thrusts by holding the child around the waist and pulling inwards and upwards above their belly button.
The thrusts squeeze the air out of the lungs to dislodge the blockage.
3. Call 999 and continue cycles
If the blockage does not dislodge, call 999 and continue with cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts until the blockage dislodges, help arrives or the child becomes unresponsive.
If you are unable to call 999 get someone else to do it.