Baby dies after choking on apple at Drusillas

Drusillas Park in Alfriston, image by Google Maps
Drusillas Park in Alfriston, image by Google Maps

The family of a 10-month-old boy who died after choking on an apple at Drusillas has donated his organs to help other children, an inquest heard today (Thursday).

Benjamin Philip Masters, from Worthing, died after a visit to the zoo in Alfriston went devastatingly wrong.

Speaking at the inquest in Eastbourne town hall, his father Adam Masters thanked staff at Drusillas as well as medical teams and hospital staff who worked hard to try and save his life.

Benjamin’s parents gave their permission to donate his organs to help other small children.

In a crowdfunding page to raise money for the unit in St George’s Hospital which cared for Benjamin in his last days, his parents wrote, “Our little angel donated his heart, his liver, both kidneys, pancreas and small bowel.

“Nothing can fill the huge void we have in our hearts for Benjamin but we want to give something back to the team at PICU.

“This page is to raise funds in Benjamins memory, to provide much needed facilities within the ward, to comfort parents when they have a seriously sick child being looked after by the dedicated PICU team.”

The page has raised more than £17,000 and is available at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/benjamin-philip-masters

The inquest heard how Benjamin was in the picnic area with his brother Dominic and mother Lucy on April 18 when he started to choke on a piece of apple. Trained through her job as an air hostess, Mrs Masters immediately started to give him first aid.

Cassie Poland, director at Drusillas, said in a statement that at around 11.20am a customer shouted that a child was choking outside Mungo’s cafe.

Staff rushed over and administered CPR as the 10-month-old had gone into cardiac arrest.

An ambulance was called and paramedics arrived on scene at the picnic area. Daniel Hunt, from SECAmb, recounted in a statement how the team took over from Drusilla’s staff administering chest compressions and the piece of apple was eventually removed.

Benjamin was then rushed to Eastbourne DGH before being transferred to St George’s Hospital in London.

Tragically, Benjamin died there on April 24.

Benjamin’s father Adam Masters said at the inquest, “I wanted to come today because, having not been present, the timeline was very jumbled. It’s helped to clarify that evidence for me and have a bit of closure.

“I’d like to thank everybody involved – the staff at Drusillas and the medical team and the staff at the hospital did a fantastic job.”

Coroner Alan Craze said, “A case like this is rare and distressing for absolutely everybody. I’m sorry to have put you through it. Thank you for coming, I hope the process will give you a certain amount of closure.”

He concluded an accidental death.

Find out more about organ donation at www.organdonation.nhs.uk