How a $70 device helped a mother save her 1-year-old son from choking on toy

Mother used LifeVac device to save son

A mother used a LifeVac device to save her one-year-old son from choking.

“Ever since that day I think about -- you know -- I look at my children just playing normally and think, “wow, I wouldn’t have this moment right now,’” Brittney Massey Weir said.

On Nov. 3, 2021, Brittney Massey Weir’s one-year-old son, Mason, was choking on a toy. She called 911 and performed back blows, but the toy was still lodged in his throat. She thought her son was going to die.

She had a device known as a LifeVac. It’s a portable, nonpowered airway clearance device. It took two tries using it before the toy came out of her sons’ throat.

Dr. Kevin Dazy is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He had a similar experience when his child choked on a tortilla chip.

“We started to pat her back to give her some assistance, after several seconds she got it out on her own, thankfully. But really to the point where she was essentially vomiting around the obstruction,” he said.

He did not have a LifeVac. While he believes it can be helpful, he said it’s more important that you can recognize the signs of choking and know what to do when you don’t have one of these devices. Remaining calm is key.

He warned that if you can see the item that the child is choking on do not try to grab it because that can cause an even bigger problem. If you try to grab the object, you could just push it down deeper. If you cannot see the object you should not put your finger in someone’s throat.

“It’s almost like a vacuum-type of assistance. The face mask would go over the face and it would provide the pressure to kind of support and pull like a vacuum. The obstruction out of the airway,” he said.

For Brittney Massey Weir, she became a huge advocate for LifeVac and has donated dozens of them to organizations in her community.

The LifeVac website states that the product is for single use only. You can learn more about LifeVac on their website. Prices start at $69.95.

About the Author:

You can watch Kimberly Gill weekdays anchoring Local 4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and streaming live at 10 p.m. on Local 4+. She's an award-winning journalist who finally called Detroit home in 2014. Kim has won Regional Emmy Awards, and was part of the team that won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2022.