Boy, 4, died after inhaling drawing pin that pierced his lung

Ayla Rutherford was ‘praying really hard’ while Axel was in hospital (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

A heartbroken mum is warning other homeschooling parents to stay vigilant after her four-year-old son lost his life inhaling a drawing pin.

Ayla Rutherford was getting in the shower last month when she heard family members screaming downstairs.

She rushed over to find her husband Josh, 29, performing the Heimlich manoeuvre on their little boy, Axel, with no idea of what had happened to him.

Despite his best efforts, the tot lost consciousness and started to turn blue and had to be rushed to hospital.

Doctors found Axel wasn’t choking but had inhaled the drawing pin, which pierced through his left lung and left him unable to breathe.

After a week on life support and four brain death tests, the young boy tragically passed away in his parents’ arms.

The couple from Graham, Washington, USA, are now warning others to throw away or hide any pins they have in their home to prevent their children suffering the same fate.

After a week on life support, doctors decided there was no way they could save Axel (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Ayla said: ‘Everybody uses them and all it takes is for one little kid to pick it up, put it in their mouth, inhale it and puncture their lungs.

‘If you have pins around the house, throw them out or lock them up. It’s not worth your child’s life or the pain.

‘I don’t want anybody to have to go through this.’

Ayla, 29, had just finishing baking her oldest son Soren’s birthday cake when she heard Josh screaming that there was something wrong with Axel.

Josh and his dad Stuart tried to do CPR as they waited for an ambulance to arrive, convinced he was choking on something.

Ayla added: ‘It felt like the longest moment of my life waiting for those sirens.’

Paramedics eventually showed up and tried CPR and a defibrillator before deciding to take him to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Tacoma.

Doctors searched for hours and failed to find anything blocking his throat, but a scan revealed the schoolboy had a drawing pin wedged ‘between his ribs’ after having punctured his left lung.

Ayla said doctors had to spend two hours performing a tracheotomy, cutting a hole in his throat to remove the pin, as the airway closes up when people stop breathing.

She added: ‘This is a kid who never put things in his mouth. It was the first time.’

After the surgery, Ayla and Josh were able to visit their youngest child, who was hooked up to life support as he could no longer breathe for himself.

Ayla is now on a mission to warn other homeschooling parents to keep drawing pins out of reach (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

The boy’s mother said: ‘The doctors pretty much told us that because he was without oxygen for so long and went into cardiac arrest five times, he wasn’t going to come back from that.

‘They told us not to hope, but we did anyway.’

Axel was in hospital for three days but made no recovery. His parents were told medics would do a brain death test on the tot which required two scans, 12 hours apart.

Ayla says her son ‘tried to take a breath’ after life support was turned off, and after seeing his pupil twitch slightly, the doctor was unable to confirm he was brain dead.

The couple had to repeat the ordeal, with the entire family showing up for a second test at around midnight the following day.

‘This is a kid who never put things in his mouth. It was the first time’ (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Ayla said: ‘We were praying really hard. I was like “please don’t take my baby. Don’t take him from me”.’

But the pair received the devastating news that their second born would not survive.

On January 16, Ayla received a call from the doctor who said he did a brain death test without them knowing.

He said he was ‘really aggressive’ with Axel to see if he could get any brain activity to no avail.

Doctors declared Axel brain dead shortly after 1.30pm on January 17. The family had a memorial service and cremated him on Saturday, February 6.

Ayla and Josh then had to break the shattering news to Soren, six, who had just celebrated his birthday without his brother by his side.

His heartbroken mother said: ‘That day we came home, me and his daddy sat him down and told him Axel died.

‘You use real words. You don’t tell him he passed away or he’s gone. You tell him that he died. You use real words – even though they hurt.

‘We had to explain that he’s with Jesus and no longer sick, but he wouldn’t be coming home anymore.

‘He cried for five minutes then said, “I want to go watch TV”. He’s special needs and didn’t really understand.

‘He brings him up all the time. Today we were doing homeschooling and he asked me when he was coming home.’

The family have launched a GoFundMe to help with Axel’s funeral costs.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, check our news page.


READ  Express yourself! How the breast-pump revolution could ease maternal stress

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.