Ralph Bavill's heart stopped for five minutes after choking on a grape at his home in Leeds, in January (2018). His mother Katy tells his story.
It was a normal evening in our home, I was about to start preparing dinner and I gave Ralph a bowl of fruit to snack on while he waited. He had always eaten fruit whole, I introduced him to it at around six-months-old, and we had never experienced any scares or close calls before.
I sat with him, which I usually wouldn't do when preparing dinner, when I felt him tapping on my arm. I looked over to see him panicked, and my immediate reaction was to bend him over my knee and hit him hard between the shoulders. I remember thinking that I needed more help, because whatever I was doing wasn't working, so I grabbed him and fled across the road to a neighbour who took over efforts to dislodge the grape by performing the Heimlich manoeuvre, while his eldest son called an ambulance. It took eight minutes for the ambulance to reach us, but at this point it had felt like a lifetime.
Ralph suffered cardiac arrest and his heart stopped for five minutes. The paramedics were working on him, but it was like time stood still.
Once he was revived, it was a waiting game to see if any damage had been caused to his brain and organs because of the lack of oxygen. We spent two nights in the hospital where Ralph received pure oxygen and treatment for aspiration to the lungs.
Once released from the hospital, Ralph had a week of antibiotics and thankfully has gone from strength to strength since.
I can't thank the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, and my fast-acting neighbour and his children enough for saving my little boy's life, they were his heroes that day.
At only two-years-old, Ralph still remembers the night he was so close to losing his life. He has said to me: "Mummy my throat hurt and then you ran into the road", which breaks my heart, but I can take some comfort in the fact that Ralph has become more aware of eating safely, and tells his friends to be careful too.
The grape itself was a smallish one – I mention this because a few people who have heard Ralph's story have said: "It must have been a big one!" I want people to know that it is the shape of the fruit and the texture of the skin that poses the risk, not only the size.
I want parents and carers to become more aware of the dangers of not correctly cutting up foods. I could've lost my son to a grape, it's just not worth it.
I think there should be more opportunities for parents, carers and parents-to-be to take part in free first aid courses, just in case they find themselves in a situation like mine and Ralph's, but I absolutely wholeheartedly believe that it's worth paying to attend one if a free session isn't available.
We attended a £20 course through Ralph's nursery, which was provided in response to Ralph's accident, which gave us a three-year qualification.
I understand some families would struggle to find a spare £20 but I think when you consider it could be the difference between life and death, it's worth every penny.
You can find out more about how to prevent choking here.
Posted: 6/7/2018 8:50:53 AM