How a popcorn snack ended in emergency surgery for toddler Nash

Nash, 2, recovers after surgery.
Nash, 2, recovers after surgery. Photo: Facebook
A mum has shared the terrifying story of almost losing her toddler after he choked on a piece of popcorn.
In a post to Facebook, US mum Nicole Johnson Goddard writes, "Last Sunday night we were all watching a movie and eating popcorn which is a very frequent event on the weekend in our home." Adding that after eating some, her son Nash, had a small choking episode, she notes that he seemed "fine".
Assuming that he had swallowed the popcorn, Ms Goddard writes that Nash recovered and continued to watch the film. Over the next few days, however, the mother-of-three and her husband observed that their little boy had developed a "weird sounding" cough which concerned her. "I just assumed he was catching the same crud we had all been going through," Ms Goddard admits.
That evening, however, the mum noticed that her toddler had a temperature and was "super fussy". Worried that his breathing was laboured she called her pediatrician who advised her to take her son to emergency.
"After a chest X-ray the doctor didn't like what he saw,"Ms Goddard writes, "so he got scheduled that evening for a Bronchoscopy." After the surgery, Nash's worried parents were told that he had he had aspirated popcorn into his lungs when he choked.
"The body recognised it as a foreign object and put puss pockets around it," she explains. "All the inflammation caused him to develop pneumonia in his left lung."
To ensure all pieces of popcorn were removed, Nash underwent the same procedure two days later. "It was an up and down roller coaster but we were in the best care," she said.
Thankfully, the surgery was a success with the doctor able to remove a final piece.
"If I wouldn't have trusted my instinct and brought him in, the outcome wouldn't have been good," Ms Goddard writes. "We're so thankful our little man came out ok.
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"All of this over popcorn which is eaten on a regular basis in our home."
The mum also shared that she had received " a lecture" about the fact that popcorn shouldn't be given to anyone under the age of five. "I hate to use the excuse he's our third child so I overlook and don't pay as close attention to the do's and dont's as we did with our first," she said.
Asking for no negative judgement, the mum adds that she shared her experience as an "eye opener'.
"Always trust your gut because it's right!!".
In 2016 a similar incident took the life of two-year-old Maddison Grace Lawson of Virginia who died after a popcorn kernel lodged deep in her throat, blocking her airway. "This was all caused by a piece of popcorn," reads a Go Fund Me page, established to raise funds for her medical care reads. "Please share the danger of popcorn, someone may not know."
According to the Department of Health children can easily inhale or ingest food and their small airways are easily blocked.
They note that children should sit down whenever they are eating and should be supervised. Particular care should be taken with the following foods, including popcorn:
  • Hard food that can break into smaller lumps or pieces
  • Raw carrot, celery and apple pieces, which should be grated, finely sliced, cooked or mashed to prevent choking
  • Nuts, seeds and popcorn
  • Tough or chewy pieces of meat
  • Sausages and hot dogs, which should have the skin removed and be cut into small pieces to prevent choking.

It's advice echoed by by the American Academy of Pediatrics who note that the risk of choking depends on the shape, size and consistency of the item, along with the developmental and behavioral capabilities of the child.The AAP adds hard candy, chunks of peanut butter, marshmallows and chewing gum to their list of dangerous foods.

But food isn't the only household item parents need to be aware of. Coins, magnets and button batteries are also particular problems, as are certain toys.
Just 12 months ago, Tasmania three-year-old Alby Davis died after choking on a bouncy ball, which was to be a party favour at his upcoming birthday party.