Mother’s horror as tot choked on coin

An X-ray shows the coin stuck in Harry's throat
An X-ray shows the coin stuck in Harry's throat
Share this article

The mother of a Fylingdales toddler has spoken of her horror as she watched her son swallow a coin and begin to choke.

Lesley Pattinson, 39, rushed to the aid of her son, Harry, who immediately began to retch and cough.

“It’s every mother’s worst nightmare,” she said. “He was retching and crying, but I stayed calm and it never once crossed my mind that I was going to lose him. I didn’t even consider it might happen.”

The family lives in a remote area so help was not readily available, but she managed to stay calm throughout the ordeal. Lesley said: “I thought about what I needed to do. Things went through my head, like do I give him some milk to push it down or to make him sick?

“It’s horrendous, but you keep calm and just go into robot mode to save your child.”

After several minutes the 15-month-old calmed down and his breathing was restored.

This allowed the mother of four, who also has three stepchildren, to rush her son to Whitby Hospital, where an X-ray showed that the coin was lodged in Harry’s oesophagus.

However, she was told that due to Harry’s age, they could not conduct emergency surgery to remove the coin - which could at any moment slip into his windpipe and cause him to begin choking again.

“Harry was coughing a little bit, and they said that if he coughed and it moved, it could go down his airway,” explained Lesley.

Instead, he was taken to James Cook University Hospital, where a specialist was on hand to help.

Harry was rushed into emergency surgery, and Lesley was forced to endure an agonising wait outside.

“It is just a sickening feeling,” she said. “It’s just awful and a minute feels like an hour.”

Following the surgery, Lesley went down to the recovery ward to see her son, and she added: “They let me get on the trolley with him and give him a cuddle as they wheeled us back up to the ward. I was so relieved.”

The incident took place on Monday lunchtime, when the toddler picked up a one pence coin that he found on the carpet and put it into his mouth.

Despite immediately calling 999 for an ambulance, Lesley was told the nearest emergency vehicle that could help was actually located the other side of York.

Refusing to wait that long and risk Harry choking again, Lesley took matters into her own hands.

In the days since the incident, Lesley has praised the staff at Whitby Hospital, and she plans to write a letter to both them and the staff at James Cook Hospital to thank them for helping Harry.

“Everybody was absolutely amazing,” she said. “They were reassuring us, keeping everybody calm, and just doing a brilliant job.”

The family also asked if they could keep the penny, which has been dubbed ‘Harry’s Lucky Coin’, and it is set to be framed, along with the X-ray, as a reminder to the youngster, who his mother described as “very loving and happy”

She added: “We are going to keep the coin for his memory box, because we are never going to let him forget this.”