A parent’s nightmare became their reality during a routine grocery run. Emma Carver was buying food with her son, but then he started to choke. Tragically, Carver didn’t know what to do to help him. It was a heart-breaking moment that she will never forget.
Carver had a two-year-old son with her husband, Mohammad Umar. Their adorable toddler was named Ayyan Umar. He had big brown eyes and dark hair. And at that time, the family lived together in Detroit, Michigan.
Back in August 2017 Carver went grocery shopping with Ayyan. She popped him into her shopping cart and, like any other customer, started to fill it with food as she explored the aisles.
One of the items that she had picked out was a bunch of grapes. Carver subsequently put them in the cart, and then she moved on to find some cheese. While she proceeded with her routine shop, however, Carver had no idea what her son was doing as he sat in the cart.
With his mother’s eyes elsewhere, little Ayyan had reached into the cart and grabbed the grapes. Then, the two-year-old tried to eat the pieces of fruit. But because of his age and size, the grapes became lodged in his throat.
That was when Carver heard her son making choking sounds. As a result, she immediately dropped what she was holding and rushed to his side. Carver saw that Ayyan was choking, struggling to catch a breath.
Not knowing what to do, the boy’s desperate mother started to hit Ayyan’s back in an attempt to clear his throat. “His lips turned blue, his fingers all turned blue,” Carver subsequently explained to WXYZ, a local TV station.
Meanwhile, concerned shoppers also attempted to help the little boy. Carver said that one person called the police, while another attempted CPR. But despite their efforts, her son’s life was quickly fading before her eyes.
Eventually, one grape was dislodged but another remained. And by the time that the emergency services arrived, just minutes later, it was too late. Horrifically, the toddler had already passed away.
His body was taken to the hospital, where doctors removed the second, lethal grape. It goes without saying that Ayyan’s parents were devastated by the tragedy. Upon hearing the news, the little boy’s dad simply couldn’t believe what he was being told at first.
“I was feeling like maybe it was a bad dream, maybe somebody gonna wake me up. He sleeps on my chest. I see him everywhere,” the boy’s tearful father, Mohammad Umar, later told WXYZ.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, half of all choking episodes in the U.S. are caused by food becoming lodged in people’s throats. And certain foods can be especially deadly to young children. These include whole grapes, nuts and cheese.
Parents, therefore, need to be vigilant. As this terrible episode demonstrates, if you’re distracted, even for a few seconds, a toddler can potentially choke. And if you don’t know first aid, then the consequences can be harrowing.
In light of this, Carver told WXYZ that she and her husband were planning to learn first aid. They also urged other moms and dads to do the same, so that they’re prepared if their kids are ever in need of such help.
What’s more, whether you want to train in person or online, the American Red Cross can teach you the Heimlich maneuver and CPR. And if a child is choking, there are various methods that can be used to try to save them, depending on their age.
For a baby under 12 months old, you should hold them face down on your forearm, and tap the middle of their back five times using the bottom of your palm. Then, turn the baby around and, with two fingers in the middle of their breastbone, deliver five chest compressions. If this doesn’t work, the next step is CPR.
The method is different for older children, however. Firstly, you should encourage them to cough. If that doesn’t work, strike them on the back and perform the Heimlich maneuver. The latter involves you placing your arms around someone’s waist while you’re behind them and then leaning them forward. Next, put your clenched fist slightly above their navel, and then use the other hand to press down on it.
That information only touches the surface, of course, so we encourage you to read up on the techniques in more depth and to get hands-on training. Because if you ever encounter someone who is choking, it’s very important to act quickly so that their brain isn’t deprived of oxygen.
And if you can master the methods detailed above, as well as CPR, then you could potentially save a life. If only someone in the grocery store on that fateful day had been trained in these procedures, then perhaps little Ayyan would still be alive.
Ayyan was a beautiful little boy who left this world all too quickly. His family will no doubt be in many people’s thoughts, and we can only hope that their tragedy will inspire others to learn first aid. That way, someone else’s life might be saved, and another family won’t have to suffer.