Family Donates Over 200 Anti-Choking Devices To Schools After Christmas Gift Saves Man's Life

August 10, 2023

A family in Lowell, Massachusetts, has donated hundreds of life-saving anti-choking devices to schools in the community.

The heartfelt gesture comes after a harrowing incident in which one of these devices saved the life of a family member.

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Maggie O'Rourke, an ICU nurse and the mother of a toddler, gifted her parents a LifeVac anti-choking device for Christmas.

"I knew right away when I handed over the anti-choking device on Christmas, I was going to get made fun of, and sure enough, I did," Maggie told NBC Boston. Maggie admits she was nervous thinking about leaving her young child with her parents and the gift made her feel at ease.

"We're like, 'Oh, Maggie, you're just such a nervous first-time mother'," said Maggie's mom, Christine.

The very next day, the gift saved Maggie's father's life. He was eating turkey leftovers when he suddenly began to choke.

"I asked him if he was okay, and he couldn't speak. We know that that's the classic sign of someone choking," Christine said.

He stood up and collapsed on the floor.

Christine performed abdominal thrusts and the Heimlich maneuver, but it wasn't working. She called 911, and after a couple of cycles of CPR, she remembered her daughter's gift was sitting under the Christmas tree.


"I tried it once and nothing happened," she said. "Then I tried it a second time and the food actually came up into the device and within seconds — it seemed like forever — he took a breath. And I just couldn't believe it."

In gratitude for the life-saving intervention, the family reached out to local schools, proposing a donation of anti-choking devices to help ensure the safety of all students, teachers and staff members.

The family has since donated more than 200 LifeVac devices to schools and emergency responders.

"The reality is if Chrissy didn't go get that device, I would be dead, and there's no question around that," Maggie's father, Bill, said.

"It's pretty easy to use, it comes with two masks — an adult mask and a pediatric mask — and it works like a plunger, you just pop it right on. You place it, you press, and you pull, and it makes a big suction. It's simple, super simple," said Maggie.

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