A 12-year-old Colorado boy was reportedly left brain dead after using a shoelace in the “Blackout Challenge,” which dares people to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.
Joshua Haileyesus, who was found by his twin brother passed out on his bathroom floor on March 22, has since been declared brain dead – and doctors told the family to prepare to say their goodbyes, Fox 19 reported.
“He’s a fighter. I can see him fighting. I’m praying for him every day,” said Joshua’s father, Haileyesus Zeryihun, according to the outlet.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed,” he said. “I was begging them on the floor, pleading to see if they can give me some time, not to give up on him. If I just give up on him, I feel like I’m just walking away from my son.”
Family friend Hirut Yitayew told The Denver Channel that he “can’t even describe the grief and the devastation. Nobody could ever imagine this would happen to a 12-year-old.”
On Monday night, several dozen friends, relatives and neighbors gathered at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora to pray for a miracle.
Joshua’s parents said the boy has often used social media, which has helped him learn and gain connections to new passions such as cooking, guitar and acting. He was exposed to the positive aspects of social media and technology, but also was exposed to their dangers, they said.
“This is something that kids need to be given to be taught — to be counseled. Because this is a serious a serious thing,” his father told The Denver Channel.
“It’s not a joke at all. And you can treat it as if somebody is holding a gun. This is how dangerous this is,” he added.
The “Blackout Challenge” has been trending on social media apps such as TikTok.
“Joshua has a love for people that you wouldn’t expect in a child. Since he was very young, he always expressed compassion for others,” a family representative told CBS4.
“He would pray for people who were sick, stand up for others who were bullied at school, and practice CPR in case he ever needed to save someone else’s life,” the rep added.