Doctors remove tack from boy

By Nikki Preston

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Frankie Royal-Hikatangata, 6, with his sister Swaye Royal-Hikatangata, 4, and his mum 
Vieanna Royal and dad Daniel Hika. Frankie is recovering in hospital after swallowing a pin tack. Photo/Supplied
Frankie Royal-Hikatangata, 6, with his sister Swaye Royal-Hikatangata, 4, and his mum Vieanna Royal and dad Daniel Hika. Frankie is recovering in hospital after swallowing a pin tack. Photo/Supplied

Tauranga 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 in order 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 swallowing the plastic headed metal tack.

His mother 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 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 airwaves and he was then flown by helicopter to Waikato Hospital where the tack was removed following 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 ... it has scared him enough not to do it anymore and want to tell other kids not to do it too."

By yesterday afternoon Frankie was even well enough to talk, 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 blinkin tack. I will be keeping a closer eye on him that's for sure."

A Waikato DHB medical expert said it was quite common for kids 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 their help they had been able to arrive before Frankie came out of surgery.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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