A TODDLER died after choking on a snack of vegetable sticks at a creche, an inquest heard yesterday.
Cian Henehan (23 months), from Kilcolgan, Co Galway, was declared dead at Galway University Hospital on November 24 last year after being rushed there by ambulance from the Ballinderreen Community Creche.
The inquest into his death heard Cian had earlier been left at the creche by his grandmother, Carmel Lyden.
Mrs Lyden had been looking after him while his parents, Dara and Becky, were on a short break abroad.
But when she called to collect him shortly before 4pm she was met by two staff members who told her Cian had had "a bit of an accident". She was taken to a room where the toddler was lying on a plastic mattress. He looked unconscious.
Mrs Lyden said she had completed a first aid course and immediately started CPR.
Members of staff, similarly qualified in CPR, helped her, but Cian could not be revived.
Childcare worker Christine Conroy said Cian had earlier been eating at a low table and she was close to him.
The children were all eating sticks of vegetables, including carrots. Cian became distressed and began moving his arms around as he appeared unable to catch his breath. She put him over her knees and slapped his back a number of times. Some chewed carrot emerged from his mouth, but he still struggled for breath. Other childcare staff also slapped his back and examined his mouth before he was taken away from the other children and into the office.
Responding to a claim by Mrs Lyden that Cian appeared to have been left on his own in the office, Ms Conroy told coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin that the toddler had not been left alone at any stage.
Pathologist Dr Frans Colesky said he had not discovered any food bolus (a mass of food formed in the mouth after thorough chewing) in the child's airways, but large particles of food, including carrot, were found in his stomach.
He consulted a forensic pathologist to discuss his findings and was advised that a foreign body in the airways could be dislodged in the process of resuscitation.
Dr Colesky said the cause of death was a fatal vasovagal inhibition (stopping of the heart) triggered by choking.
Dr McLoughlin described it as a tragic event for the Henehan and Lyden families.
He concluded that Cian had choked on a piece of food that had not been chewed sufficiently well and had most likely "gone down the wrong way", obstructing his breathing and causing his heart to stop.