Luke Ramone Harper suffered fatal brain injuries after putting a number 8-shaped balloon he bought for his birthday party over his head a week earlier
An eight-year-old boy was found dead in his bedroom after inhaling a helium balloon from his own birthday party.
Luke Ramone Harper, of Dublin, suffered fatal brain injuries from helium after putting a number 8-shaped balloon he bought for his birthday party over his head a week earlier.
The boy was pronounced dead at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin on April 2 last year, reports the Irish mirror.
His mother, Hilary McSweeney, told an inquest before the Dublin Borough Coroner on Friday that Luke had been playing upstairs and watching YouTube videos the previous afternoon.
Ms McSweeney said her son, who had autism and was diagnosed with ADHD, did not answer when she called him and his sister Ella to come down for dinner just before 5pm.
She described discovering him upstairs in an unresponsive state lying face down on the floor, with a balloon completely over his head.
Ms McSweeney said the balloon was floated and partially deflated in the living room following his birthday party last week.
She said her son’s body was limp when she pulled the balloon off his face and took him outside to the back garden for some fresh air.
The investigation revealed that she and Luke’s father, Martin Harper, gave their son chest compressions while they waited for emergency services to arrive.
Ms McSweeney said she knew Luke was “in trouble” because paramedics worked on him in the garden before taking him to hospital by ambulance.
At the hospital, she learned that he had suffered cardiac arrest.
“It was obvious his brain was very badly damaged and he was on life support,” Ms McSweeney recalled.
“I knew Luke was dead at that point and the machine was keeping him alive.”
After being informed by doctors the next day that it was time to say goodbye, Ms McSweeney said they took keepsakes of Luke through his hair, handprint and footprint.
She shared how she lay on her son’s bed with his favorite blanket and teddy bear, surrounded by his family as he died. He was officially pronounced dead at 3:52 p.m. on April 2, 2021.
“I felt numb, heartbroken and in unimaginable pain,” she told the inquest.
Describing Luke, she said he was an excellent son who was “full of confidence and full of love.”
Answering questions from coroner Cróna Gallagher, Ms McSweeney said her son had always had helium balloons for his birthday parties but there had never been a similar incident or an attempt to put a balloon over his head.
“It was a total freak accident,” she noted.
Mr Harper said his son was completely unaware that helium was sometimes inhaled by older children because it changes their voice.
He said the family believed Luke was just trying to reinflate the balloon and he “passed out.”
A post-mortem revealed that Luke died of lack of oxygen to his brain from cardiac arrest caused by inhaling helium from a partially deflated balloon.
dr Gallagher said he suffered rapid and severe brain damage in an “insurmountable injury.”
The coroner said Luke likely passed out very quickly after inhaling the helium, as there was no evidence he tried to take the balloon off his head or sought help from others.
dr Gallagher said the evidence suggested the gas, and not the balloon, was to blame for the tragedy.
The coroner said she was reluctant to make any recommendations in the case because it would indicate the accident may have been foreseeable.
“This case was not foreseeable. It was so unusual and so unfortunate,” she noted.
dr However, Gallagher said people didn’t realize how dangerous helium could be and that only a very small amount of the gas could do any harm.
At the same time, she emphasized that she is not suggesting that people should not have helium balloons at parties and other celebrations.
Based on the evidence, Dr. Gallagher on a verdict of accidental death.
She expressed her condolences to Luke’s family and said that in such circumstances, no death was as tragic as that of a child.
After the hearing, the boy’s parents said they were concerned other families were aware of the potential danger of helium balloons, particularly to younger children.
“Once they’re done with that, people should just make sure they’re disposed of properly,” Mr. Harper said.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/boy-8-found-dead-bedroom-27142157 Boy, 8, found dead in his bedroom after inhaling helium from his own birthday balloon - World News