Frankie Royal-Hikatangata, 6, with his sister Swaye Royal-Hikatangata, 4, and his mum Vieanna Royal and dad Daniel Hika.
Doctors who were trying to remove a pin tack from a
6-year-old boy's throat were forced to poke it down into his
lung to clear his airway.
Frankie Royal-Hikatangata was rushed to hospital on Monday
night when his parents found him choking in the backyard of
their Maketu home after he swallowed the plastic-headed tack.
Vieanna Royal said her son was wheezing like he was "having
an asthma attack" while they waited for an ambulance to take
him to Tauranga Hospital.
"It was very, very scary, something I wouldn't want anyone
else to go through. I just said to him 'sit there son' and he
just concentrated on trying to breathe."
Doctors at Tauranga Hospital operated on Monday night but
were unable to remove the tack as it was lodged firmly in his
They instead pushed it down to his lungs to clear his airways
and he was then flown by helicopter to Waikato Hospital where
the tack was removed in an hour-long operation.
Despite having two operations Ms Royal said Frankie was doing
well and appeared to have more energy than his exhausted
"It was really scary but I'm glad everything has turned out
okay. The first two to three hours he came out of theatre he
was tender and sore. They were giving him pain relief through
the drips and stuff.
"He had a couple of sleeps and each time he woke up from the
sleep he was feeling better every time. To me he hasn't cried
"It's definitely given him a shock, that's for sure - given
him a bit of a fright.
"It has scared him enough not to do it any more and want to
tell other kids not to do it too."
By yesterday afternoon Frankie was even well enough to talk
to the Herald, saying he had a very important message to
share with other children: "Don't put pins in your mouth
because you choke and you get sick."
Ms Royal hoped other parents would learn from their ordeal.
"I don't know where he found this one tack. I will be keeping
a closer eye on him, that's for sure."
A Waikato DHB staff member said it was quite common for
children to swallow various things but when they got stuck as
Frankie's had, it could be deadly.
The family was also grateful to staff at Tauranga Hospital
who had given them money for petrol to travel to Waikato
Hospital because they had rushed out of the house in such a
hurry they didn't have their wallets.
There had not been enough room in the helicopter for them to
travel with Frankie but with the assistance, they had arrived
before he came out of surgery.