Boy, 5, almost chokes to death trying to swallow McDonald’s chicken nugget

A mum has managed to track down the "guardian angel" who saved her five-year-old boy after he choked while trying to eat a whole chicken nugget in one go.

Mary Byrne had taken her son Johnny Óg to a McDonald's in County Down, Northern Ireland.

"It was lovely weather and we decided to sit outside the restaurant instead of using the drive-thru, as we usually would," she told the BBC's Evening Extra.

As he finished eating at the restaurant in Newry, the young lad went to put his wrappers in the bin, but when he turned around his mum noticed he had a strangely blank expression and his "face went purple and blue".

She said: "He couldn't get a breath. I tried banging his back and tried everything I thought was right."

"I had tried to eat the nugget in one go and I was trying to cry but my body didn't let me," Johnny Óg recalled.

However, he said, he wasn’t scared by the experience, even as his mum was desperately trying to dislodge the obstruction from his throat.

But then Gabriel McKenna appeared "as if out of nowhere".

"Something came into my mind to go round to the front of the restaurant and I saw what was going on," he said.

"The child was on his mother's knee," Gabriel recalled.

"I said, 'give me him' and hoisted him up in the air by the feet, put his belly towards mine and his back where I could get at him, and worked at his two shoulder blades to revive him."

He went on: "I said prayers to Our Lady and St Theresa and God to help me to save this child and thanks be to God my prayers were answered."

Gabriel didn’t have any specialist first aid knowledge, he said, but he got the idea from boxing matches he had watched as a younger man.

But then, as quickly as he had appeared, the "angel" vanished.

Determined to thank him properly Mary put out an appeal on Facebook for people to help her track Gabriel down and thanks to the power of social media she was successful.

After Mary got in touch, Gabriel popped round to visit a now thoroughly recovered Johnny Óg.

"He's a great man and humble man but he's definitely going to be in our lives now – we will never forget what he did," Mary said.

Johnny promised that he would be chewing his nuggets a bit more thoroughly next time.

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