Hong Kong boy, 12, dies after choking on beef ball

The boy was clutching his neck and gasping for air when he was spotted by a female security guard, and taken to Caritas Medical Centre. He was later transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital (above), where he died on Sunday.
The boy was clutching his neck and gasping for air when he was spotted by a female security guard, and taken to Caritas Medical Centre. He was later transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital (above), where he died on Sunday.PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS

A 12-year-old boy died in Hong Kong on Sunday, after choking on a beef ball last Friday.

The Secondary 1 student, identified by local media reports as Chau, was returning home from school in the Wong Tai Sin district at about 5pm last Friday when he stopped at an eatery to get snacks.

He bought a siew mai, fishballs and beef balls for HK$24 (S$4).

But as he was walking home to the Chuk Yuen South Estate, he took a bite off a beef ball and choked on it.

English-language newspaper The Standard said the boy was clutching his neck and gasping for air when he was spotted by a security guard.

She called for an ambulance and he was taken to the Caritas Medical Centre. He was later transferred to the intensive care unit at the Princess Margaret Hospital, where he died at 8.50am on Sunday.

According to Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily, the boy had suffered from brain damage due to a lack of oxygen in his brain.

This led to multiple organ failure.

 

His teachers and classmates visited him at the hospital last Saturday and prayed for his recovery, but they had been told that the situation was not optimistic.

Speaking to The Standard, Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine president Axel Siu reminded people that they should not eat while talking or walking.

"When people swallow too fast or eat while walking, food can drop into the airway," he said.

He added that those who see signs of choking, such as a person's face turning blue, should help by performing the Heimlich manoeuvre.

There have been other cases of children choking on food in recent months. In August last year, a seven-year-old boy in Malaysia died after choking on the seed of a rambutan fruit.

Last March, a two-year-old girl died after choking on a grape at home in Hong Kong.

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2019, with the headline 'HK boy, 12, dies after choking on beef ball'. Print Edition | Subscribe