9-Year-Old Girl Saves Friend's Life Less Than 24 Hours After Learning Heimlich Maneuver

Keira Silvia, left, was choking an a hot dog when Shailyn Ryan, right, performed the Heimlich maneuver.
Keira Silvia, left, had a piece of hot dog stuck in her throat when Shailyn Ryan, right, came to her rescue. Jill Barnhardt

It's a good thing 9-year-old Shailyn Ryan is a quick learner. 

Less than 24 hours after being taught how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, the Massachusetts third-grader jumped to her feet in the school cafeteria when good friend Keira Silvia started to turn blue.

"A piece of hot dog was actually stuck in her throat and she couldn't breathe," Allie Lane, a director at Northborough Recreation Center, where Shailyn was shown how to do the life-saving procedure, told InsideEdition.com Monday.

Shailyn wrapped her arms around Keira, clenched one hand into a fist and placed the other over it, then pulled in and up just above Keira's belly button. 

The offending nugget of meat popped from her throat, and Keira was able to draw a long breath.

"I swallowed too much of my hot dog and I was choking and couldn't breathe, Keira told The Washington Post. "It was scary. After Shailyn helped me, I cried and I hugged her. And yeah, I told her 'thank you.'''

The day before, Shailyn had completed a two-and-half-hour class at the recreation center, where children ages 9-11 were taught a skill that might come in handy if one is home alone.

The Heimlich, for one, how to open the door if your parents aren't home, for another. Basic first aid. "How to feel comfortable if you're home alone," said Lane. "It also helps the parents," she said, laughing.

"It doesn't matter how old you are, it's really important to learn life-saving skills," she said. 

Shailyn has become a local hero of sorts. She's been on television and radio and in national newspapers. "She's such a shy girl," Lane said. "She's so sweet. I think she's a little overwhelmed."

On Monday night, Lane was scheduled to bestow a "Saving a Life" award from the American Heart Association to Shailyn at a recreation center board meeting. She's already been given an award at Marguerite Peaslee Elementary School, where she and Keira attend.

Most everyone associated with the school and rec center considers the little girl a very big hero.

"Oh my gosh," said Lane. "She's 9 years old and she saved her friend's life. It was really incredible."

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