Two-year old Jacob Jenkins died five days after being placed in an induced coma by doctors due to a choking accident caused by a grape in a famous restaurant chain, Pizza Hut.
The boy, who hailed from Hartlepool, County Durham, died in the arms of his parents Wednesday night; at the same time, hundreds of balloons were released by well-wishers in his honor.
"Me and David want to thank every single person for their support over these awful last few days. Jacob has gained his Angel wings at 7pm as you all set off your balloons," announced Abigail Wilson, Jacob's mother, announced his untimely demise.
On Friday, Jacob was dining with his parents when he suddenly choked on a grape as they were eating. He stopped breathing for around 30 minutes while first aiders tried to dislodge the grape in his throat. When paramedics arrived, they rushed him to Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he was placed into an induced coma.
"There was nothing we could do," Abigail said.
His life support was turned off by his parents at the same time as the balloons were released.
A fundraising page was set up for Jacob by the family's close friend, Ben Picken. The GoFundMe page raised close to £16,000 or more than $24,000 intended for hospital expenses. Profit coming from the balloons sold in a party shop will also be given to the family.
The Pizza Hut restaurant was closed until Monday and they have decided to close again on Thursday in honor of Jacob.
"We are devastated to learn of Jacob's tragic death. Our deepest sympathy is with Jacob's parents, Abigail and David, and his family and friends. We will be closing our Hartlepool Hut today as a sign of respect," a Pizza Hut spokesperson said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a study published in the journal Pediatrics, choking is the leading cause of injury and death among children younger than 4 years old. Mostly, items associated with choking are food, coins and toys.
It is recommended that parents and caregivers be vigilant when it comes to the food they give to the kids. The most common foods that cause choking are grapes, popcorn and hotdogs.
"If you were to design the perfect plug for a child's airway, you couldn't do much better than a hot dog. It will wedge itself in tightly and completely block the airway, causing the child to die within minutes because of lack of oxygen," said Dr. Gary Smith, professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine said.
Photo: Susan Murtaugh | Flickr