Lifestyle & Human Interest

Toddler Has Pieces of Popcorn Surgically Removed from Lungs Days After Choking Scare


Facebook has become a great medium not only for sharing daily thoughts and photos but for warning people of potential disaster. Plenty of posts have gone viral, as people urge others to do or not do something that made all the difference in their particular cases.

For mom Nicole Johnson Goddard, that advice involved her toddler, Nash, and a seemingly harmless snack: popcorn.

Light, inexpensive and only 31 calories per cup for the plain variety, popcorn is a common household (and theater) treat. Goddard didn’t think much of handing her third child some of the snack as they had family movie time.

As many children do, Nash coughed briefly, but got over it quickly and seemed fine. That was the beginning of a living nightmare for the family, and Goddard posted online to warn others of the potential dangers of popcorn.

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“Now that I’ve had a chance to sit and reflect on a very unfortunate but eye opening event that our family encountered,” she wrote on Feb. 24, “I wanted to share our experience because as I’ve shared the story so many people were shocked and unaware of the bad effect popcorn can have on a toddler.”

“Last Saturday night we were all watching a movie and eating popcorn which is a very frequent event on the weekend in our home. I didn’t think twice to give Nash popcorn. Nash had small choking episode but was fine. We didn’t see anything come out so we assumed he swallowed it.

“The only thing we observed was a cough he developed after the episode. The next day he was fine but still had a weird sounding cough which concerned me a little. I just assumed he was catching the same crud we had all been going through.”

On Monday her husband left on a trip, leaving Goddard alone to deal with a sudden fever Nash developed later that evening. She gave him Motrin, but something felt “off” about his behavior and breathing.

“I called my pediatrician immediately and said Nash needs to be seen ASAP,” the mother continued on Facebook. “We went in and got sent to children’s main campus immediately. After a chest X-ray the dr didn’t like what he saw so he got scheduled that evening for a Bronchoscopy.”

While Goddard’s husband rushed back home, Nash was taken into the operating room as doctors tried to remove several pieces of popcorn from his lungs.

“The body recognized it as a foreign object and put puss pockets around it,” she explained. “All the inflammation caused him to develop pneumonia in his left lung. During the procedure the dr got out 6 pieces. There was so much inflammation so the dr wasn’t ? he got it all so scheduled him to be admitted and repeat the procedure in 2 days.”

Another surgery and another piece of popcorn later, Nash was on his way to recovery and able to go home again. His parents are thankful he’s OK, and Goddard believes she did the right thing trusting her gut.

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“If I wouldn’t have trusted my instinct and brought him in,” she wrote, “the outcome wouldn’t have been good.”

According to the mother’s Facebook post, children under the age of 5 aren’t supposed to eat popcorn. This family experienced first-hand why, but thankfully they still have their son — who probably won’t be partaking of the snack again for a few years.

Liftable, a section of the Western Journal, has reached out to Nicole Goddard but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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