Girl, 8, dies amonth after choking on cuttlefish snack

Local | Riley Chan Feb 15, 2018
An eight-year-old primary school girl who choked on a cuttlefish ball has died after 26 days in hospital.

She was certified dead shortly before 4pm on Monday.

On January 18, the primary three student at Buddist Chan Wing Kan Memorial School in Yuen Long was eating cuttlefish balls she bought at the school's kiosk during recess when she choked and collapsed on the playground.

A teacher administered first aid before paramedics arrived.

She was initially taken to Pok Oi Hospital, then transferred to Tuen Mun Hospital, where she remained in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit, reportedly suffering from a lack of oxygen to her brain. Her grandmother said a computer scan showed she had sustained a cerebral oedema, or swelling of the brain.

The school's principal and teachers visited her that day after school.

It is understood the girl, surnamed Chow, was rushing to swallow the food when she heard the bell ring to signify the resumption of classes.

The kiosk temporarily stopped selling cooked food, including fishballs, siu mai, and boiled eggs, after the incident.

Lau Fei-lung, chairman of Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine, said the airways can become blocked and no oxygen can enter the lungs if someone chokes on food.

"In most circumstances, one could pass out in a few minutes," Lau said.

He explained that the brain is extremely sensitive if there is a lack of oxygen, and it can lead to a cerebral oedema.

Even if one regains consciousness, the individual could suffer from cognitive and intelligence impairments, as many brain cells may have died in the process.

The doctor reminded people not to use fingers in an attempt to remove the object as there is a risk it could be pushed further down the throat.

He encouraged everyone to learn the Heimlich Maneuver in order to help people in situations where they may be choking on something.

To perform this, wrap your arms around the person's waist and lean them forward slightly.

Steady yourself and make a fist with one hand and position it below the person's rib cage, but above the navel. Then wrap your other hand around your fist, and press hard and quick into the person's abdomen, pulling inward and upward.

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January 2019