Trying to ‘feel high’ nearly costs boy his life

The victim was 10-year-old Shalev Muallem of Bnei Ayish, who plays in Rehovot’s Maccabi child football team.

February 15, 2012 04:10
1 minute read.
Shalev Muallem sits with Dr. Natalya Kovalov

Shalev Muallem sits with Dr. Natalya Kovalov 390. (photo credit: Kaplan Medical Center)


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A boy whose schoolmate pressed on his diaphragm to try out a “way to feel high” that he had seen on YouTube lost consciousness for 20 minutes on Sunday and was saved by Kaplan Medical Center emergency room doctors.

The victim was 10-year-old Shalev Muallem of Bnei Ayish, who plays in Rehovot’s Maccabi child football team. The “game” of chest-pressing almost cost the boy his life, said the doctors.

The pressure on the chest, according to the video, creates a tickling feeling on the arms, which “float” upward until the person faints. The boy who did the pressing told his classmates, “If Shalev falls, hold him up.” After Muallem’s whole body shook and he lost consciousness, an ambulance arrived and rushed him to Kaplan.

Dr. Natalya Kovalov of the pediatrics department said that pressure on the diaphragm can halt breathing, starving the brain and heart of oxygen or overwhelming them with too much of it; there is also a risky reaction in the nervous system. This situation could be fatal, she said.

Kovalov added that children had to be warned of the dangers of this “game.”

Muallem was admitted in moderate condition. When his condition stabilized, he failed to recognize the people around him for a whole day and did not recall anything about the incident. The medical staff conducted a series of tests to rule out other conditions, gave him liquids and monitored him closely.

Dr. Pini Cassuto, a senior medical psychologist at Kaplan, noted that youngsters are exposed daily to information on the Internet and that some of it can be questionable and even dangerous. They are not mature enough to assess the data on these sites, he said, advising parents and teachers to monitor the online material that children view.

Muallem’s parents added their support for the doctors’ recommendation.

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