'Very, very scary' as tack lodges in boy's throat

Frankie Royal-Hikatangata, 6, with his sister Swaye Royal-Hikatangata, 4, and his mum Vieanna...
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 throat.

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 parents.

"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 at all.

"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.

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