Here, Kahla Hilton, 37 tells the story in her own words.
O￼rdering lunch at a cafe with my friend Dannii, my eight-month-old daughter Lukah was in her stroller. Suddenly, she started coughing.
Turning to her, I saw she had something in her mouth. Realising it was a bead from her teething garland strung across her stroller, I sprang into action. ‘The string must have broken!’ I cried to Dannii.
Scooping the bead out with my finger, I wondered how this could have happened.
What if she’s swallowed some? I panicked.
Peering into her mouth, to my horror, I saw another bead lodged in her throat. ‘It’s halfway down!’ I said.
Putting my finger down, I couldn’t reach it. By now, Lukah was going from pink to blue as she struggled to breathe.
‘Help! My baby’s choking!’ I screamed.
She’s going to die right in front of me, was all I could think as the cafe owner called an ambulance.
Suddenly, a man who’d heard my screams from outside, jumped through the open window.
Within seconds he’d scooped Lukah up. I watched, frantic, as he held her upside down, gave her a few sharp blows on her back and dislodged the bead. Lukah gasped and took in a huge breath.
‘I think she’s all right now,’ he said, handing her back. ‘Thank you,’ I wept, hugging Lukah as she cried.
This amazing stranger, Steve, had saved my girl.
Rushing Lukah to hospital to check she hadn’t swallowed or inhaled any more of the 13mm beads, we discovered they wouldn’t show up on X-rays because they were made of silicone. So she was monitored and discharged that night.
The next morning, Lukah was her usual happy self, but I hadn’t slept at all. ‘How could I put trust in a piece of string?’ I wailed to my partner, Dusty. ‘It’s not your fault,’ he said.
Nothing like this had ever happened when my two teenagers were small.
Just a few weeks before, I’d gone on a baby first-aid course. But in the emergency, I’d been too panicked to use what I’d learnt.
Soon after, I met up with Steve and gave him a hug. ‘I can’t thank you enough,’ I said tearfully. ‘I don’t know how I jumped through the window so fast,’ he laughed. ‘It must’ve been the adrenalin. I couldn’t do it now!’
To warn other parents, I wrote about what happened on Facebook. The post was shared over 5000 times.
Lukah had a guardian angel watching over her that day. If it hadn’t been for my hero Steve, the outcome could’ve been a lot worse.
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