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Plano 6th Grader Says Classmate Used Heimlich Maneuver To Save Him From Choking

PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Arad Arbasi and James Dawson have been classmates for years, but only recently became friends.

"The whole choking situation, you know, made our friendship quite better," said Arad.

The two were at lunch last month at Robinson Middle School in Plano, when part of plastic wrapper stuck to the bottom of James' food ended up down his throat.

"It felt sharp in my throat. Very sharp. And it was just hurting," said James.

Unable to cough it up, he quickly grew scared as he sat alone at a lunch table.

"I was like, 'oh shoot, I'm gonna die. I'm gonna choke'."

Arad, though, happened to walking by and noticed him in trouble.

"He has his face completely purple. And he's doing this," said Arad, clutching his throat to demonstrate.

He knew exactly what to do.

"So I run behind him and I start doing the Heimlich maneuver, and I eventually I hear him yell, 'It's out! It's out!'"

Arad says he learned about the Heimlich years ago from a book his mom bough him and recently watched a video about it, too.

"What it does is it pushes air through the airway to throw whatever is in there out," he explained.

"I'm like, 'Who is this kid? Who? Do I know him?'" Frances Salinas, James' mother, remembers asking.

She was surprised to learn it was an 11-year-old who'd come to her son's aide.

"What kind of gift to give a kid who saved your son's life?" she said.

The least she could do, she thought, was to make sure his parents knew what he'd done.

Arad Arbasi and James Dawson
Arad Arbasi and James Dawson (CBS 11)

So, she shared her gratitude on Plano Moms Talk, a popular Facebook page for local parents.

"If your son goes to Robinson, is in 6th grade, and his name starts with an 'A'. He is a hero. Your son saved my son's life today and performed the Heimlich maneuver while he choked at lunch," she wrote.

Soon, she got a reply.

"Hello, I'm A's mom and I'm grateful that your son is ok," wrote Mahnoosh Emami.

"I found out he knew Heimlich and that was very surprising," his father, Kiumar Arbasi, told CBS 11, admitting even he wasn't sure he knew how to do it correctly. "Now I'm practicing though for sure!"

The two boys' parents recently met for dinner and now, they say they're friends, too.

"They're a really great family," said Salinas.

It's a bond built on two boys just looking out for each other.

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