Five-year-old boy died of ‘helium poisoning’ after trying to climb inside a dinosaur balloon

A five-year-old boy died of “helium poisoning” after trying to climb inside a dinosaur balloon the same size as him.

Karlton Noah Donaghey, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, wanted to wear the ball as a costume to surprise his family.

His mother Lisa Donaghey, 43, found him on the floor of their Dunston home with the helium balloon above his head and neck.

The youngster received CPR at the scene before being airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for emergency treatment.

He spent six days in intensive care before his ventilator was turned off at Great North Children’s Hospital on June 29.

Lisa, who is also mother to Kaitlin, 25, Joe, 20, and Will, 15, said the family had been enjoying the warm weather in the garden when the accident happened on June 23.

Karlton Noah Donaghey, 5, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, wanted to wear the ball as a costume to surprise his family

She said she went to see Karlton after he came in to use the restroom.

Lisa said: “When I came in he was on the floor with the ball above his head and neck. It was a balloon dinosaur the same size as him.

“I think he got into the ball to be a dinosaur to go out and surprise his nieces. I took the ball off him and screamed.

I think I carried it to the patio door. As a mother, I knew he was gone, he wasn’t responding. His eyes were wide open and he was pale.

Karlton had been bought the big green ball as a treat during a trip to The Hoppings funfair in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with Lisa and her father Karl Donaghey, 35, on June 17.

It was his first time at the funfair and he enjoyed the rides, his parents said.

Lisa said: ‘He was very well behaved and he didn’t ask for anything, he was never ungrateful. He was really well behaved so he got a treat.

His mother Lisa Donaghey, 43, found him on the floor of their Dunston home with the helium balloon on his head and neck

His mother Lisa Donaghey, 43, found him on the floor of their Dunston home with the helium balloon on his head and neck

“He loved dinosaurs – ‘dinosaur roar’ was probably one of his first words. He had lots of books about dinosaurs and dragons and lots of dinosaur toys.

On the day of the accident, Kaitlin and her eight-month-old twin daughters, Renàe and Tiànna Hodgson, had come to visit.

Kaitlin and Lisa’s neighbor Amiee Morrison performed CPR on Karlton until paramedics arrived at the house.

Lisa said: “I just collapsed outside on the grass. I had to scream and scream and scream. I couldn’t bear to come back. My little boy was working. I was numb with fear and terror.

‘Amiee took over from Kaitlin and she didn’t give up. She worked and worked and worked on my boy until the ambulance arrived and they took over. She was just fantastic and I am very grateful to her. It took four minutes for the ambulance to arrive, but it felt like four hours.

Neighbor Amiee Morrison performed CPR on Karlton until paramedics arrived at the house

Neighbor Amiee Morrison performed CPR on Karlton until paramedics arrived at the house

Lisa said the Great North Air Ambulance Service, North East Ambulance Service and Northumbria Police rushed to her address.

Karlton was airlifted to hospital and Lisa met him there, after being transported in a blue-lighted police car.

Lisa said: “I remember one consultant saying he was in a really bad place. I just hit the ground, couldn’t get up.” I was crying: ‘My little boy, my little boy’. It was just awful.

Lisa said she did not leave Karlton while he was in intensive care at Great North Children’s Hospital.

She said he started having seizures and doctors said there was nothing more they could do to save him. Karlton’s fan was turned off and he died on June 29.

The five-year-old Karlton fan was turned off and died on June 29

The five-year-old Karlton fan was turned off and died on June 29

Lisa said: “I read to him and sang to him. I washed his face, his fingers and his hair. I put Vaseline on his lips and made sure he was clean.

“His heart was beating on its own and his stats seemed to be improving, but he was suffering from massive seizures. The last crises have hit it quite hard. It couldn’t work, everything was damaged.

“He was trying to keep fighting but I knew he was fighting with a tiny ounce of energy, it took everything away from him.”

“I said, ‘Stop being brave, go to sleep. I can do without you and I can make you proud.’ I said, ‘Just close your eyes and rest’ and, ‘Don’t ‘don’t worry about mom.’ I promised my little boy that it wouldn’t break me.

“They took the sedative off him and he deteriorated rapidly. I had the great opportunity to lay in bed with him, hum and sing into his ear and hug him to my chest until his little heart stopped. My baby boy just fell asleep and he was so handsome.

Lisa said that before Karlton's accident, he asked her for a dachshund dog and she promised him one while he was in the hospital.  After he died, she bought a puppy and named him Fudge after the Great North Children's Hospital's giraffe mascot.

Lisa said that before Karlton’s accident, he asked her for a dachshund dog and she promised him one while he was in the hospital. After he died, she bought a puppy and named him Fudge after the Great North Children’s Hospital’s giraffe mascot.

“I knew as a mother I wasn’t going to bring him home. I’m just grateful to have spent six days with him.

Lisa said that before Karlton’s accident, he asked her for a dachshund dog and she promised him one while he was in the hospital.

After he died, she bought a puppy and named him Fudge after the Great North Children’s Hospital’s giraffe mascot.

Lisa said: ‘He’s been a beautiful comfort to all of us, he’s helping me through this. He died mischievous but adorable.

“Karlton was exactly the same, he was such a loving child. Karlton had a caring nature and he was always thinking of others. He was polite and he was mischievous, he was a total character.

“He had just lost his two lower teeth and he had just learned to ride a bike without stabilizers. I sat for three and a half hours watching him for safety. He was my little best friend and my little sidekick, we did everything together from morning to night.’

The cause of Karlton’s death is believed to be helium intake, but this has yet to be confirmed by a coroner. Lisa now wants to warn others about the dangers of helium.

Lisa said: ‘It’s a toxin that can kill in seconds. It’s very dangerous. It took my son’s life, he just wanted to be a dinosaur for fun. It can take the life of a child and it can take the life of an adult.

“I want parents, grandparents, childminders, adults, students, anyone who has come into contact with helium to be careful about how they use it and dispose of it.

“A precious five-year-old was taken too soon and I would never impose this pain on anyone.”

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