13-month toddler dies from bean in windpipe after eating banana muffin

A 3-hour resuscitation attempt was futile.

Zhangxin Zheng| September 21, 02:15 AM

A toddler in North Carolina, United States, died after choking on a bite of banana muffin.

The tragedy was recounted in a heartbreaking Facebook post by the mother, Ashton Zager, on Sept. 18, 2019 -- the same day her son died suddenly.

The son will be turning 13 months old in about a week's time.

What happened

In the post, Zager recounted that her son, Hank, choked on a single bite of banana muffin.

An ambulance was called immediately and abdominal thrusts were performed on the toddler in a bid to dislodge the muffin, but to no avail.

The mother was initially hopeful that this was just a minor incident, as choking hazards are common.

Rescue attempt failed

According to the mother, Hank was conscious throughout the whole time and he was sent to the hospital.

The medical team tried to remove the muffin from his throat, a process that eventually took almost three hours, but did not manage to do so in time.

Hank's heart stopped beating and the medical team had to perform compressions on him.

Hank's parents were asked to hold Hank's hands because the success of resuscitating him was low.

The boy did not regain consciousness and passed away eventually.

Zager's family found it hard to accept that Hank died, as he previously did not have problems eating soft food, such as bananas and oranges.

A later after the mother's post, Hank's father, Casey Zager, clarified on Sep. 19 that the medical examiner found a bean that went into the windpipe.

It was the bean blocking the airway unlike what the family thought initially.

View this post on Instagram

Hank turned one 3 weeks ago. He passed away last night. At first, we thought he choked on a muffin, but the medical examiner discovered a bean was blocking his airway. Apparently, it just went down the “wrong pipe.” We tried the hiemlich maneuver, which was covered in my cpr certification. We called 911 and he was in the ambulance headed to the hospital within 7 minutes or so of the initial choking. He was breathing and conscious entering the ambulance. He was breathing and conscious when he arrived at the hospital. Medical staff felt confident they could fix things. Things took a turn for the worse when they put him on medication to relax him in order to get breathing instrument down his throat. They fought so hard for 2 hours to keep hank breathing and his heart beating, but we lost... I’m so thankful for the medical staff and how hard they fought for my boy. I’m so thankful for the community that has wrapped their arms around us. I’m thankful that we have hope in Jesus, who gives life and gives it to the full. I know this is a really sad thing, and I normally don’t post super personal things on social media, but I want to share something that I have learned. Put first things first. Worry about stuff that matters. Talk to God. Be with people. Be real and vulnerable. Don’t argue over insignificant things. Let things go if you can. Stop getting annoyed by little things. Put your phone down. Look people in the eye. Don’t wish away the time.

A post shared by Casey Zager (@caseyzager) on

The Zagers regularly share updates and photos of their young children on Facebook.

Here's what the mother's whole post said:

My baby died tonight. Hank died. And I’m still in shock so I’m writing it now. He died.

He choked on a muffin. An ordinary muffin. My child who inhaled bananas and oranges and all the scary foods with ease choked on a single bite of banana muffin. 911 was called right away. And the hymlich was performed. And he never lost consciousness with us so when we got to the hospital we thought it was going to be okay. But it was not.

They worked on him for almost 3 hours I think. I’m still really confused why they couldn’t just pluck the single bite of muffin from his throat but they couldn’t. And his heart gave out. And they performed compressions for nearly an hour before they called us back in to tell us we could hold his hand while they performed compressions for 2 more minutes. I sang to him during that time. Cried to him. Yelled at him that his story was not over. That he wasn’t ever supposed to happen so it didn’t make sense this would be the end of his story. He was supposed to go on and have an incredible story. His brother, who named him needed him to come home and continue to be his sidekick. That’s why we named him Hank Watson. I told him to come back. He didn’t come back.

I’m still in shock. I think I’d like to never come out of it. Our people are here. Taking care of us. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like or where this journey will go. I just feel like I want to tell everyone. Because maybe they could just mourn for me and I won’t have to feel it. Maybe this is a nightmare I’ll wake up from tomorrow.

I know that we live in a broken world and broken things happen. And the Lord loves me. And He loves Hank. And I don’t want anyone to tell me there’s a reason for this because sometimes bad things are just bad things that coexist with good things. And that’s okay. And I’m mad and I’m sad and I’m very very confused.


Editor’s note on Sep. 21, 11:25am: This article has been updated for accuracy.

Top photo from Ashton Zager's Facebook