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Toddler chokes to death on her dinner in parent’s ‘worst case scenario’ and donates her organs

Shattered father reveals his heartbreaking farewell to his baby girl who died four days after choking on her dinner despite his frantic efforts to save her while waiting for an ambulance to arrive

  • Sam Skinner gave his daughter CPR for 14 minutes after she choked on dinner 
  • Little Charlotte, 21-months, died later in hospital with her parents by her side  
  • The family donated Charlotte’s organs which have saved three young lives  


A shattered father who tried desperately to save his baby daughter when she choked on her dinner has written a heartbreaking tribute to his ‘brave little girl’.

Sam Skinner and his wife, Jess Pennington, revealed their only daughter, Charlotte, affectionately known as Lottie, died in hospital four days after choking at the family home on October 1. 

Charlotte, who would have turned two on New Year’s Eve, fought as long as she could in hospital after Mr Skinner performed CPR on her for 14 minutes while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

During the horrific ordeal, which happened while Ms Pennington was at work, little Charlotte’s heart stopped.  

Charlotte, who would have turned two on New Year’s Eve, bravely fought as long as she could in hospital after Mr Skinner performed CPR on her for 14 minutes in his home while waiting for an ambulance to arrive

Charlotte's heart stopped and she stopped breathing during the ordeal, which occurred while her mother was at work

Charlotte’s heart stopped and she stopped breathing during the ordeal, which occurred while her mother was at work

Eventually, both Charlotte and her mum were flown to Randwick hospital in Sydney’s east, where she was rushed into emergency surgery then placed in the intensive care unit. 

Friends said Mr Skinner was a ‘hero’ after doing everything he could to save the toddler.

In a tribute posted on Facebook, Mr Skinner revealed when Charlotte died in the early afternoon of October 5, both he and Ms Pennington were at her side telling her how much she was loved. 

‘We talked to her and told her how much everyone loves her,’ Mr Skinner said.

A moving photo shows little Charlotte's tiny hand in his in the hospital bed, her nails still painted a soft shade of pink

A moving photo shows little Charlotte’s tiny hand in his in the hospital bed, her nails still painted a soft shade of pink

Charlotte's grieving parents donated her organs when they realised she would not survive, saving the lives of three other children in need

Charlotte’s grieving parents donated her organs when they realised she would not survive, saving the lives of three other children in need

A moving photo shows little Charlotte’s tiny hand in his while she lies in the hospital bed, her nails still painted a soft shade of pink. 

‘We held her hand, ran our hands through her hair until the very end,’ Mr Skinner said.

‘She was one brave little girl.’

Charlotte’s grieving parents donated her organs when they realised she would not survive, saving the lives of three other children in need.  

Mr Skinner said he and the rest of Charlotte’s family will forever be grateful for the short amount of time had with her and ‘all the memories she helped create’.

Her older brother Elijah told his family she would ‘fly up to the sky on a pirate ship’ – a reference, her parents later realised, to the children in Peter Pan who travel to Neverland and never grow up.  

Both Charlotte and her mum were flown to Randwick hospital in Sydney's east, where she was rushed into emergency surgery then placed in the intensive care unit

Both Charlotte and her mum were flown to Randwick hospital in Sydney’s east, where she was rushed into emergency surgery then placed in the intensive care unit

Mr Skinner said he and the rest of Charlotte's family will forever be grateful for the short amount of time had with her and 'all the memories she helped create'

Mr Skinner said he and the rest of Charlotte’s family will forever be grateful for the short amount of time had with her and ‘all the memories she helped create’

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family as they prepare little Charlotte’s funeral and to help with unexpected expenses.

More than $30,000 has already been raised. 

Suffocation, choking or other accidental threats to breathing account for 11% of deaths in children under eight in Australia. 

Parents are encouraged to break a child’s food into small, bite-sized pieces and to never leave them unattended at meal or snack times.

Popcorn, whole grapes, olives or cherries, nuts, seeds and sausages are foods that should be avoided in young children due to their choking hazards.  

What to do if a child is choking 

If a baby under one year is choking, here’s what to do: 

  • Phone 000 immediately. 
  • Lay the child downwards on your forearm.  
  • Use the heel of your hand to give five firm back blows. Check whether the blockage has cleared between each back blow. 
  • If the blockage hasn’t cleared, lay the child on their back, and give them up to five chest thrusts. 
  • Check whether the blockage has cleared between each thrust. If the child is still choking, alternate five back blows and five chest thrusts until emergency help arrives. 

For children aged over one year and teenagers, here’s what to do: 

  • Encourage the child to lean forward and cough. If that doesn’t clear the blockage, phone 000 immediately. 
  • Use the heel of your hand to give five firm back blows. Check whether the blockage has cleared between each back blow. 
  • If the blockage hasn’t cleared, place one hand in the middle of the child’s back and the other hand in the centre of their chest. 
  • Using the heel of the hand on the chest, do five chest thrusts. Check whether the blockage has cleared between each thrust. 
  • If the child is still choking, alternate five back blows and five chest thrusts until emergency help arrives. 



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