It was in Vitry-le-François, in the Marne, that Célia Cortot died of suffocation at the age of 12. “The morning of the tragedy, we got up late, we had lunch like every day around 12:45 pm,” says his mother, Angélique, in a petition to alert parents to the dangers of this chewing gum.
“At the end of the meal,” she says again, “I gave Celia the magic balls that dad had bought 15 days earlier. Celia returned to the sofa with the balls and I in my chair. “
A few minutes later, Celia swallows through the 2.2 cm diameter ball. Angélique Cortot recounts having practiced the Heimlich maneuver several times in an attempt to save her daughter without success. Célia died 35 minutes later despite the arrival of the firefighters,.
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A candy already withdrawn from the market in 1993
Magic balls are candies covered with several layers of sugar of different colors. According to Angélique Cortot, these sweets had already been withdrawn from sale in 1993, then put back on the market in 1997.
According to Olivier Bon, a former emergency doctor worked at the SAMU in Paris and in the departments of the inner suburbs from 2005 to 2016, this type of accident remains rare. “Out of the 1,500 daily operations, this type of accident happened less than once a week, ”he recalls.
According to him, the main difficulty in this kind of situation is to react quickly and well. “It’s always very impressive for the people around, they are losing their means. If they do not know the right maneuvers, they call for help when the person is already unconscious or even in cardiac arrest, ”he warns.
Additionally, the Heimlich maneuver may not work. “If it’s completely clogged up, it won’t work. The Heimlich maneuver involves using the air in the lungs to push the object out of the throat. After this gesture, the air reserve decreased. The following maneuvers become less efficient than the first. “
Decrease the diameter of the candy
In her petition, Angélique Cortot asks for preventive measures to avoid a new tragedy. Namely: “an age limit stipulated in large characters on the package with a precision on the dangerousness” and the reduction in the diameter of the ball to prevent it getting stuck in the throat of a child.
For Olivier Bon, it is not so obvious. “It’s almost better if the object is bigger, it sinks less deeply. And if it’s smaller, it is less likely to get stuck, but if it is, it will be deeper and therefore more difficult to remove. Larger objects often get stuck above the trachea, they do not pass through the vocal cords. I have seen firefighters manage to retrieve a larger object with their fingertips. “
The emergency physician therefore recommends caution when you or your child eat foods with very different textures. Do not hesitate to call for help as soon as possible if you realize that a person is choking.