Tiisetso Malunga
2 minute read
19 Oct 2019
10:07 am

Wheelchair-bound three-year-old boy dies at Middelburg preschool

Tiisetso Malunga

After 37 minutes of resuscitation, the doctor told Ryan Els's parents that he had died after choking, most likely in his sleep. 

Ryan Els had cerebral palsy, and was said to have died in his sleep of asphyxiation.

Ryan Els lost his young life at Clever Kidz preschool in Middelburg on September 30.

The little boy’s mother, Careen, said she received a phone call from the school that something was wrong with Ryan and that she must go to the hospital, reports Middelburg Observer.

Upon arrival, she and her husband Martin found the medical staff busy resuscitating Ryan.

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Careen explained how, initially, they thought his heart had stopped, but after 37 minutes of resuscitation, the doctor told Careen and Martin that Ryan had died after choking.

Ryan was born with cerebral palsy, his condition was severe and his mother described him as a ‘soft little baby’.

His condition confined him to a wheelchair and he needed hands-on care.

Autopsy reports showed that Ryan died of asphyxiation, this was likely caused by him choking on his vomit in his sleep.

Careen explained that she and her husband were devastated by Ryan’s sudden passing.

“He was always a very happy child. Ryan enjoyed Snotkop’s music and would always go crazy when he heard it on the radio.”

After learning of the cause of death, the couple were disturbed.

She explained that they do not want to point any fingers, but the autopsy results have brought so many unanswered questions to the surface.

What they are grappling to understand is how nobody heard Ryan choking, “the doctors told us that it was impossible for no one not to hear Ryan gagging before he lost consciousness.”

Ryan was laid to rest last Monday.

Clever Kidz principal Susan du Plessis said she and other staff members were shocked at Ryan’s death. She said that because of Ryan’s condition, on several occasions Ryan had stopped breathing for at least five seconds.

On September 30 he stopped breathing and the school rushed him to the hospital.

Du Plessis said one of the staff members who had first aid training also did CPR in the car while they were driving to the hospital.

She was shocked when she heard that the post-mortem states that he died of asphyxiation, because of his condition he had a problem swallowing and Du Plessis said they always kept him in their arms after he ate something.

“We all loved Ryan, we are going to miss him dearly,” said Du Plessis.

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