The parents of a six-year-old boy who nearly died after choking on his school dinner have described the experience as “every parent’s worst nightmare”.
Elis Lloyd, a pupil at Saron Primary School in Carmarthenshire, was eating a sausage when it became lodged in his throat and blocked his airways.
The young boy was drifting in and out of consciousness for twenty minutes until air ambulance paramedics finally managed to dislodge the food.
Elis's parents have praised the Wales Air Ambulance service for their rapid response, who arrived at the school within nine minutes of the call.
"The nearest road ambulance was in Cardigan, at least 40 minutes away, but I gathered that the air ambulance service listened in to the 999 call from the school. They decided this boy doesn't have 40 minutes,” said Elis' mum, Sarah.
The paramedics were preparing to start CPR and readying the defibrillator for young Elis, whose face had turned blue and eyes had rolled backwards.
Fortunately, through hard backslaps they managed to fully clear his airways and he was able to breathe again.
Sarah said her son was in “complete shock” when she and her husband, Jonathan, arrived at the school.
“He was very breathless, and he was bruised and sore from the backslaps. He wasn't wearing a t-shirt because the air ambulance crew had been putting pads on him for the defibrillator", she said.
Elis was then taken to Glangwili Hospital by road ambulance as medics believed part of the sausage may have moved deeper into his airways or into his lungs.
Nothing was found but he was kept overnight because of low oxygen levels, before being allowed to go home the next day after making a full recovery.
"It wasn't until we came home that the reality and the shock really hit," said Sarah.
"Both Jon and I had periods where we would break down thinking about it. Elis has never had any choking episodes before.
"He has all his teeth, no issues with dentists or anything. He's not a particularly busy, lively child at lunchtime, he just sits and enjoys his food. It was just a freak accident."
Sarah said Elis returned to school the following week, but was initially scared to eat.
"He was really excited to go back, but when he did he was scared and not wanting to eat", she said.
Staff at the school offered Elis lots of support including helping him to overcome his fears so that he can now enjoy his meals again.
In a show of gratitude to the "absolute heroes" who saved his son, Elis’ father Jonathan is now planning to climb Pen Y Fan ten times in twenty-four hours, to raise money for the Welsh Air Ambulance Service and Saron Primary School.