MASON, OH (FOX19) - Anne Jutt was having lunch with three of her family's six young children May 15 when six-year-old Will choked on a cherry tomato.
Anne sprang into action, performed the Heimlich maneuver on him three times, and the tomato shot out of his mouth, saving his life.
Mother and child realized the gravity of the situation and immediately burst into tears. Toddlers Ellie, 4, and Sam, 3, ran for tissues and brought Will the stuffed dog he sleeps with.
"We were having lunch in our kitchen, sitting in the tall chairs at the bar," said Jutt. "Will was eating the cherry tomatoes on his plate. He looked up at me and could barely talk. Before I could get to him to get the tomato out of his mouth, he swallowed it down. And it was stuck. He jumped out of the chair and flapped his arms all around. I told him to talk to me, but he couldn't talk."
Jutt did not slap Will's back to dislodge the tomato. "I really don't understand the concept of doing backslaps," she said. "I told him to cough it out, but he couldn't. So I performed the Heimlich maneuver twice, but there was nothing.
"I started to get scared, thinking, 'how long could his brain go without oxygen and not be damaged?' I looked around for a phone, but decided it would take too long for a responder. Then I did the Heimlich one more time, thinking I was willing to break a rib to help him.
"So I did it hard—I don't know if I did it right or not. The tomato shot out like a bullet in one big piece and we both cried for a long time. It was the scenario every parent thinks about, but is never prepared for."
Jutt said she and her husband Mike, a hair care manager at P&G, had taken a general first aid training course when she was pregnant with their first baby a dozen years ago.
"It was the only training I'd ever had with the Heimlich maneuver," she said. "I know my technique was not perfect, but when I found the right spot, it worked. I have never been so happy in my life. We are so very thankful for the doctor."
She meant Dr. Henry Heimlich, the Cincinnati thoracic surgeon who developed the Heimlich maneuver in 1974. Saturday, June 1 is national Heimlich Maneuver Day.
Since 1974, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people have been saved from choking deaths by using the Heimlich maneuver. Will is the latest person to be added to the 'saved' list.
Anne Jutt did the right thing, said Heimlich.
"Backslaps only drive food or other items deeper and tighter in the airway, causing imminent death," he said. "There is no known report or study that proves backslaps have saved a choking person."
He challenged both a recent recommendation by the American Heart Association to perform backslaps, then CPR on an infant choking victim, and an American Red Cross recommendation of five backslaps, then five Heimlich maneuvers as first responses to help a choking victim.
The Jutts have six children: Abby, 12; Adam, 10; Mia, 8; Will; Ellie and Sam. Mia, Will, Ellie and Sam were adopted from China. The older four children attend Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in Cincinnati.