Kenneth Knox arrived within minutes after receiving a 911 call about a choking infant. The Greenville, Georgia, police officer arrived on the scene and found a nearly unconscious 2-month-old baby who wasn’t breathing and already blue.
The baby’s parents had been trying CPR without success, but Knox said he somehow felt guided in performing something he was never taught.
“I’m a devout Christian and at that moment, it had to be God who just told me, ‘Hey, try sucking it out,’” he told TODAY.
After four or five tries, “it finally came out and it came out so hard I swallowed it,” he said of the blob of cereal stuck in the baby’s throat. A second later, the baby started crying, a sound Knox called "sweet music to my ears."
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Knox returned to check on the baby the following day and a photo of him holding the infant, Ma'Yavi Parham, went viral after he shared it and the girl’s story on Facebook.
“Out of my 25 years being a cop this is my greatest and most profound accomplishment and it made every second of those 25 years worth it all,” he wrote on the post. “I am forever humbled and changed by this. little miss Parham will forever be a part of my life...”
Within a week, the girl’s mom had reached out again to Knox.
“Everyone was telling me, ‘You should make him her godfather!’ But I was going to ask him that anyways,” Meona Parham told TODAY. “And I finally just built up the courage to ask him and he said yes.”
Parham said her baby started choking after she had just finished feeding her some milk mixed with cereal, which she said her doctor recommended to help ease her acid reflux. She was burping Ma'Yavi when she noticed white fluid coming out of the baby’s nose.
“Then I noticed her eyes were in a daze, so I called out to her dad, and he grabbed her and tried to breathe in her mouth,” Parham said.
The couple then called 911 after the baby remained unresponsive. Knox was the first to respond.
“He saved her life — literally saved her life. I don’t think nobody else could take the place of godfather for her than Kenneth,” said Parham, 19. “And their bond is already so amazing.”
A date for the christening has not been set yet, and Parham said she’s not sure if she will hold a formal ceremony or a small, private one.
“This is all pretty overwhelming right now,” she said.
Knox said he planned to be in Ma’Yavi’s life regardless of whether he had a formal title or not.
“I know how I would feel if that had been one of my children or grandchildren,” said Knox, a dad to a pair of 29-year-old twin daughters and grandfather of five.
He said Parham texts him photos of the baby every day, and he wouldn’t have it any other way
“I look after that child now. In every bit, I would have been her godfather anyway,” he said. "But now, I definitely get to see her grow up and be a part of my life, and my children's lives."