A mum and dad have told how they went through “every parent’s nightmare” when their six-year-olds were nearly died after choking on his school dinner.
Elis Lloyd was eating a sausage during lunch at Saron Primary School in Carmarthenshire when a bit became lodged in his throat and blocked his airway.
He slipped in and out of consciousness for 20 minutes and almost requires an electric shock from a defibrillator when first responders where able to remove the piece of food.
Parents Sarah and Jonathan, from Capel Hendre, opened about the horrific incident to Wales Online and praised the “absolute heroes” of school staff and Welsh Air Ambulance service who saved their little boy’s life.
Their efforts have inspired Jonathan to raise almost £2,000 for the charity and the school.
Elis’ airways became “firmly blocked” at around 12pm on January 31, said Sarah. “The school staff did anything and everything they possibly could.
They were able to dislodge a portion of the sausage to clear his airways just enough to allow a bit of oxygen through, but the remainder was still lodged there. Elis was in and out of consciousness.
“The nearest road ambulance was in Cardigan, at least 40 minutes away, but I gathered that the air ambulance service listened in to the 999 call from the school. They decided this boy doesn’t have 40 minutes.”
An air ambulance based in Dafen near Llanelli arrived at Saron within nine minutes.
The paramedics were preparing to start CPR and to use a defibrillator on Elis, whose face had turned blue and eyes had rolled backwards, but through hard backslaps they managed to fully clear his airways and he was able to breathe again.
Sarah, 36, and Jonathan, 33, were both at work in Carmarthen when they were called by the school in what the mum described as “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
They arrived as Elis was receiving oxygen from a mask, surrounded by paramedics.
“He was in complete shock,” said Sarah.
“He was very breathless, and he was bruised and sore from the backslaps. He wasn’t wearing a t-shirt because the air ambulance crew had been putting pads on him for the defibrillator.”
Elis was taken to Glangwili Hospital by a road ambulance. Medics believed part of the sausage may have moved deeper into his airways or into his lungs, but nothing was found from a scoping procedure.
Elis stayed overnight to continue receiving oxygen because he still had low levels, but he had recovered well by the following day and was able to go home.
“It wasn’t until we came home that the reality and the shock really hit,” said Sarah.
“Both Jon and I had periods where we would break down thinking about it. Elis has never had any choking episodes before.
“He has all his teeth, no issues with dentists or anything. He’s not a particularly busy, lively child at lunchtime, he just sits and enjoys his food. It was just a freak accident.
“He went back to school the following week. He was really excited to go back, but when he did he was scared and not wanting to eat.”
The school helped the six-year-old overcome his fear by giving him a diary with a picture of Superman on the front, wearing glasses like Elis’.
The book included a spider diagram of who he could talk to about any worries, and allowed him to write down how he was feeling. Sarah said it has played a big part in Elis enjoying his food again — even sausages.
In June, Jonathan will scale Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales, 10 times in 24 hours to raise funds for Welsh Air Ambulance and Saron Primary School.
Some of the teachers will also take part, while Elis plans to join them for the final walk up. “He’s excited — I think he’ll have a shock when he sees how far he’s got to walk,” laughed Jonathan.
Donations are already only £5 off reaching the original £2,000 target. Sarah said: “The air ambulance people are absolute heroes. I hadn’t realized they rely solely on charity contributions. Since Jon has started this campaign so many people have said to us the air ambulance saved their dad or their brother. So many people have told us their stories.”
You can donate to the Gofundme page here. To read more of the latest stories from Carmarthenshire, click here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.