Choking toddler saved by babysitter's parrot

by Bethany Sanders, Nov 12th 2008 5:00PM

When two-year-old Hannah started choking on her snack, no one was around to help. No one human, anyway. Hannah's babysitter was in the bathroom, completely unaware, but someone did see that Hannah needed help - the babysitter's pet parrot.

The bird started shrieking loudly, then began to repeat the words, "Mama, baby, mama, baby," over and over again. Meagan, the babysitter, spotted the child, who had already began to turn blue, and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Hannah is fine, much to the relief of her parents and sitter.

It's fairly common to hear about cats and dogs sounding the alarm when family members are in trouble. When our ancient dog fell into our pool late one evening years ago and couldn't get out, our cat literally saved her life by meowing in a way we couldn't possibly ignore. But this is the first time I've heard about a bird, especially a bird that's not part of the family, saving a child's life. It's a good reminder that our pets are a lot more complex than we give them credit for.


Babysitter: Parrot Saved Girl's Life With Warning

video at: http://cbs4denver.com/watercooler/life.saving.parrot.2.860499.html

Willie didn't say much when CBS4 visited on Sunday. Meagan said he is usually pretty talkative.

DENVER (CBS4) ― A babysitter's parrot is being credited with helping save the life of a 2-year-old girl who was choking Friday at a Denver area home while the sitter was in the bathroom.

"While I was in the bathroom, Willie (the parrot) started screaming like I'd never heard him scream before and he started flapping his wings," said Meagan, the babysitter. "Then he started saying 'mama baby' over and over and over again until I came out and looked at Hannah and Hannah's face was turning blue because she was choking on her pop tart."

Meagan performed the Heimlich maneuver on Hannah, which stopped the choking.

"If (Willie) wouldn't have warned me, I probably wouldn't have come out of the bathroom in time because she was already turning blue, her lips were blue and everything," Meagan said.

"If anything happened to her, I don't know what I would do," said Samantha Kuusk, Hannah's mother. "I'm very grateful for the both of them because they both saved her."

Willie didn't say much when CBS4 visited on Sunday. Meagan said he is usually pretty talkative.

"He says 'I love you' and he says 'mama' and he says 'step up' and some other words that aren't so nice," she said.


Award for parrot that warned baby was choking

From Press

March 24, 2009

DENVER - A parrot whose cries of alarm alerted his owner when a little girl choked on her breakfast has been honored as a hero.

Willie, a Quaker parrot, has been given the local Red Cross chapter's Animal Lifesaver Award.

In November, Willie's owner, Megan Howard, was baby-sitting for a toddler. Howard left the room and the little girl, Hannah, started to choke on her breakfast.

Willie repeatedly yelled "Mama, baby" and flapped his wings, and Howard returned in time to find the girl already turning blue.

Howard saved Hannah by performing the Heimlich maneuver but said Willie "is the real hero."

"The part where she turned blue is always when my heart drops no matter how many times I've heard it," Hannah's mother, Samantha Kuusk, told KCNC-TV. "My heart drops in my stomach and I get all teary eyed."

Willie got his award during a "Breakfast of Champions" event Friday attended by Gov. Bill Ritter and Mayor John Hickenlooper.