Routine health lesson saves Florida boy's life, turns teacher into hero

10-year-old Tashawn Roberts unknowingly discovered an aneurysm in his neck during a school lesson.
10-year-old Tashawn Roberts unknowingly discovered an aneurysm in his neck while looking for his pulse.Today

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By Eun Kyung Kim

It was a simple exercise meant to help teach a fifth grade class about the human body, but it turned into a lesson that saved a young boy’s life.

Last month, during a classroom session about the circulatory system, Tashawn Roberts, 10, used his fingers to feel around his neck for a pulse — but soon asked his teacher for help.

10-year-old Tashawn Roberts unknowingly discovered an aneurysm in his neck while looking for his pulse.Today

"Tashawn comes up and says, ‘Ms. Digman. I can't find my pulse,’ and I said, ‘Oh, lets see if I can help you find it,’” Michelle Digman, a Florida teacher at Pinellas Park Elementary School, told NBC-affiliate WFLA. “And he goes well, ‘I feel something else.’”

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Digman felt it, too — a lump — so she instructed the boy to tell his parents about it when he got home. That night, they took Tashawn to the hospital, where doctors discovered a golf ball-sized aneurysm on the verge of rupturing.

"You couldn’t see it. You wouldn't have even known it was there unless you felt,” the boy’s mother, Teyosha Pippen, told WFLA.

Tashawn immediately underwent surgery. He spent a week in the hospital and nearly two more weeks recovering before returning to school.

"I ate a lot of ice cream,” the boy recalled to the station. “The other plus side, I got to play all kinds of video games."

An image of the golf ball-size aneurysm doctors found in Tashawn. Today

He recently returned to school and on Thursday, his mother stopped by to thank his teacher.

"Had it not been for her teaching them what she did, then I would not have known that my son had an aneurysm and God knows what would have happened,” Pippen said.

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