The hidden danger lurking in your child’s Christmas stocking

Charlie was the happiest little boy the day after Christmas. Little did we know that we would almost lose him that year, all because of a seemingly innocent product from a Christmas stocking.

Edible chocolate coins.

He had received some 'chocolate money' in his Christmas, stocking and I did not think anything of it. I also didn't think he would swallow one whole, without taking off the foil-like gold wrapping.

We were in the car on our way to celebrate the rest of the holidays with family. As we were driving along my daughter yelled, "Charlie's swallowed a coin".

We took him out of the car seat and he appeared fine. He was saying anything and he was dribbling a bit but he was breathing fine. There was no visible choking. I told my husband I would take him down to the local medical centre to get checked out as it did seem to be bothering him.

On arrival there was no urgency. They took us to the treatment  centre to be seen by the next available doctor. The doctor who eventually saw him told us we would need to go to the Children's Hospital to have it taken out. He ordered an x-ray for us to take with us and when I saw it, I couldn't believe my eyes.

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He ordered an X- Ray. When I saw the picture I couldn't believe my eyes.

I didn't think I could drive so I asked to ride with Charlie in the ambulance that had been ordered. Charlie still seemed fine. He was excited when the ambulance pulled up. It was the first real one he had ever seen.

The ambulance officers were joking with him and making him laugh. We headed off towards the freeway and to the hospital.

That's when it happened.

Charlie's, who had been sitting on my lap enjoying the ride, suddenly turned blue around the mouth and went limp. The sirens were immediately turned on and the ambulance surged forward at speed.

A MICA (intensive care) team had been radioed to meet us just in case and this is what saved Charlie's life. We met them 20 kilometres along the freeway, pulling over to let them treat my little boy. At this stage I was ordered to sit in the front seat.

They began firing questions at me such as, "Has he taken any drugs?" Charlie wasn't responding and was rapidly deteriorating. I watched as they worked frantically to keep him alive.

When we pulled up at the hospital there was a huge team of medical staff waiting for us. We burst through the double doors of the emergency department. At this stage Charlie was almost completely unconscious. He would need emergency surgery.

I waited at the door of the operating theatre. I couldn't go in. I couldn't see him like that and I didn't want to get in the way.

I had been told of the risks of surgery - chipping his teeth with the porcelain callipers and the possible side effects of the anaesthetic - that's when I lost it and told them I didn't care about the risks, just get it out.

All of a sudden Charlie came to. He asked where the 'nee nor' was (Charlie speak for ambulance). Medical staff who had been prepping him for surgery were gobsmacked. A quick x-ray revealed the coin had descended into his stomach.

They moved Charlie and I into an observation room where my heart rate returned to normal. Charlie was a mess. His clothes had been cut off him and tubes were hanging from him everywhere but he was acting like nothing had happened. He appeared unscathed and unaware with his brush with death. I then had to chase him around the ward for the next hour or so before being discharged.

On the way home Charlie was telling us he thought the money was edible. He had no idea he had to unwrap it.

It is was an unfortunate circumstance that had a successful outcome, but a huge lesson. Fair to say he will not be getting chocolate money EVER AGAIN, but we might buy him a toy ambulance, and a teddy bear.

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