Heartbroken mother Kamila Crupa said she initially thought her 13-month-old son, Mikolaj, had struck his head when he suddenly collapsed onto the kitchen floor of the family's home in Bandon, Co Cork.
Mrs Crupa told a Cork coroner's inquest that the toddler collapsed shortly after they had been playing in the back garden of their home.
The child briefly gained access to the garden shed but was immediately ordered out by her.
"He was out of my sight for only seconds and I did not see anything wrong with him when he came out. I told him to come out and he did. He went into the kitchen where he fell, and I thought he hit his head," she said.
"I picked him up and I knew there was something wrong. I knew it was serious. He was vomiting and there was a little blood. I ran to my neighbours with him for help," she sobbed.
"I contacted my partner who was working in Courtmacsherry and he arrived the same time as the ambulance."
Paramedics who arrived at the family's Castle Oak home outside Bandon immediately treated the toddler for breathing difficulties. However, his condition worsened as he was being transferred to hospital.
Paramedic Andrew Ryan said they were initially informed the child had suffered head injuries in a fall. Efforts to ventilate the boy were not effective and paramedics could not see any obstruction to his airways.
Cork University Hospital's Dr Jason van der Veldt met the ambulance on arrival and revealed that it was only when they inserted specialist viewing equipment down the boy's throat that they could see an obstruction. They were shocked to realise that the obstruction had a gold-coloured top.
However, the object was so deeply imbedded that repeated efforts to remove it failed. Ultimately, the object – a 5cm screw – could only be removed during the post mortem examination.
"It was only then that we found out it was a large spiral screw. Initially when we treated the boy we though we were dealing with an obstruction caused by vomiting and blood resulting from a head injury. It was not possible then to know he had swallowed something," he said.
Dr van der Veldt told Mikolaj's parents that there isn't a day he doesn't think about the toddler as he has a child the same age.
Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said that one of the leading causes of death for children aged three and under is the ingestion of foreign objects.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane extended her sympathies to the Crupa family after returning a verdict of accidental death.