By Mike Gallagher
Special to The Meadville Tribune
A life lesson for an 8-year-old Centerville third-grader will soon be worth its weight in gold. That is, when the gold $1 piece works its way out of his digestive system.
Joshua Brenneman was admiring one of the newly released coins last weekend when somehow he put it in his mouth — and swallowed it.
The coin became lodged in his esophagus. His 10-year-old brother Jim called for their mother, who was outside the house at the time. He also began performing the Heimlich maneuver on his little brother, trying to dislodge the coin from his throat.
Joshua and Jim are sons of Becky and Mike Brenneman of Centerville, and his dad is a teacher at Cambridge Springs Middle School.
Mom and Dad soon realized the coin was not going to budge and that their son still was able to breathe, so they took him directly to Meadville Medical Center. As soon as doctors took one look at his X-ray, however, Meadville Ambulance was summoned to take Joshua to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
On Monday morning, surgeons prepared Joshua for surgery. But as they placed him under anesthesia, his chest muscles relaxed, and the coin traveled all the way to his stomach. So, instead of taxing the young boy’s system with a surgical procedure, the Children’s Hospital doctors thought it would be best to let his body return the cash when the time was right.
Once the coin is deposited, Joshua and his dad plan on using it to start the boy’s coin collection. As of Friday, the family was still waiting for the “return” on their money.
Josh learned a valuable lesson: that it’s never good to place any foreign object in his mouth. In fact, just a short time after returning from the operating room, Josh told his mom, “You only put edible things in your mouth.” He then smiled from ear to ear as he continued playing a video game at his bedside.
If an accident does occur, though, do what Mike and Becky did for Josh, people should seek immediate medical attention. Fortunately, this was one mishap that had a happy ending and lesson for many.
And, boy, will Josh have a story to share with his Cambridge Springs Cub Scout Pack 235. And — if he brings his X-ray to a meeting — he will have “picture proof” and earn enough credit to receive his “coin collecting” skill award.
Gallagher is a retired Erie television journalist who writes occasional stories for the Tribune.