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Boy, died after inhaling helium gas from a balloon he bought for his birthday


Boy, eight, died after inhaling helium gas from a balloon he bought for his birthday – as parents warn of dangers after tragedy investigation

  • Luke Ramone Harper died after being ambushed by helium in a balloon
  • He got the 8-shaped balloon last year to celebrate his eighth birthday
  • His family has warned others to throw away helium products

The parents of a young Dublin boy who died after inhaling helium from a birthday balloon have warned other families to ensure they dispose of any material containing the gas to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

Luke Ramone Harper, 8, of Clonlara Road, Ringsend, Dublin 4, suffered a fatal brain injury after being overcome by helium after he placed a balloon in the shape of the figure ‘8’ bought for his birthday party a week earlier head.

The boy was pronounced dead on April 2 last year at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

The young boy was pronounced dead at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin on April 2 last year

His mother, Hilary McSweeney, told an inquest in Dublin District Coroner’s Court yesterday that Luke had played upstairs the previous afternoon.

She said her son’s body was limp when she pulled the balloon from his face and ran him out into the backyard to get some fresh air. She described discovering him lying face down on the floor in an unresponsive state with a balloon all the way over his head.

Mrs. McSweeney said the balloon had floated and partially deflated in the sitting room the week before after his birthday party.

The inquest learned that she and Luke’s father, Martin Harper, gave their son chest compressions while they waited for emergency services to arrive.

After being told by doctors the next day that it was time to say goodbye, Ms. McSweeney said they had taken mementos of Luke through his hair, handprint and footprint.

“I felt numb, heartbroken and in pain you can’t imagine,” she told the inquest.

Responding to questions from coroner Cróna Gallagher, Ms. McSweeney said her son had always had helium balloons for his parties, but there had never been a similar incident.

Ms McSweeney said she knew Luke, who had autism and had been diagnosed with ADHD, was “in trouble” because of the amount of time paramedics spent on him before taking him to hospital by ambulance. At the hospital, she heard that he had gone into cardiac arrest.

Mr Harper said his son would have been completely unaware that helium is sometimes inhaled by older children because of the way it alters their voices.

He said the family believed Luke was simply trying to blow up the balloon and he was “blacking out.”

An autopsy found that Luke died of a lack of oxygen to the brain as a result of cardiac arrest caused by inhaling helium from a partially deflated balloon.

Based on the evidence, Dr. Gallagher made a verdict of accidental death.

After the hearing, the boy’s parents said they would like other families to be aware of the potential danger of helium balloons and to dispose of them properly.


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