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Coroner urges Health Minister to tackle danger of blind cords

Bryan Saba was a few months short of his third birthday when he died after getting entangled in a blind cord.
John Monaghan

A CORONER has said he intends to write to the incoming health minister urging the department to take steps to ensure that deaths caused by blind cords "never happen again in Northern Ireland."

Joe McCrisken was speaking as he delivered the concluding remarks in the inquest of two-year-old toddler Bryan Saba, who died in September last year after becoming entangled in blind cords at his home in Orban Street in Portadown.

Mr McCrisken said: "Nobody is to blame for Bryan's death and what happened to him could have happened in hundreds if not thousands of homes across Northern Ireland."

Stating there had been 27 deaths across the UK since 1999 as a result of blind cords, the coroner urged all parents and carers "to check and double check all and every cord in your home."

He said: "I intend to use my powers to write to the health minister when appointed...and request that they take steps to ensure that this never happens again in Northern Ireland.

"As coroner I don’t want to hold another inquest into the death of a child due to blind cords."

The inquest was told Bryan Saba had been playing with toys in the living room on September 11 last year while his 16-year-old sister Edyneusa washed dishes in the kitchen.

At the time of the accident his father Feliciano Saba was at work in Moy Park factory while his wife, Maria Jose, was working in Italy, the country of Bryan's birth.

Mr Saba told the inquest: "We have been existing from one day to the next surviving on the strength that God gives us."

In the court, the couple embraced Adam King, a graphic designer who was in the area on his lunch break and intervened to perform CPR in a frantic attempt to save the child's life.

Mrs Saba said: "For a long time I have wanted to meet Mr King. I just want to thank him for what he did."

Mr King, who is from Waringstown in Co Down, said after the inquest: "I would absolutely jump straight in again. I am proud of what I did even though it didn’t work out."

Mr and Mrs Saba said they hoped legislation would be amended as a result of their son's death - in Italy blinds have only a single cord which does not pose a risk.

The coroner recorded the cause of death as a ligature suspension of the neck and praised Bryan's parents for donating his organs which enabled "others to receive the gift of life."

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