A 12-year-old boy has been left brain dead after attempting TikTok's Blackout Challenge

31 March 2021, 11:53 | Updated: 31 March 2021, 15:12

Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

Doctors have said it's extremely unlikely he will survive.

A boy, 12, is currently fighting for his life at Children's Hospital Colorado after attempting the Blackout Challenge on TikTok.

Joshua Haileyesus – from Denver, Colorado – has been declared brain dead after doing the challenge, which dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness. The game has been around for years and is sometimes known as the "Passout Challenge", "The Game of Choking", "Speed Dreaming" or "The Fainting Game".

Earlier this year, the challenge started gaining attention on TikTok with medical professionals warning that the dangerous trend could lead to fainting, brain damage, seizures and even death.

READ MORE: What is the Blackout Challenge? The dangerous TikTok trend explained

A 12-year-old boy has been left brain dead after attempting TikTok's Blackout Challenge.
A 12-year-old boy has been left brain dead after attempting TikTok's Blackout Challenge. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, GoFundMe

On March 22, Joshua was found unconscious in the bathroom by his twin brother. It is believed he attempted the challenge and had choked himself with a shoelace. Joshua's father Haileyesus Zeryihun told WAGM TV/KCNC that a few days before he was found, Joshua had boasted to his brother that he could hold his breath for a minute. 

"He's a fighter. I can see him fighting. I'm praying for him every day. It's just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed," Joshua's father told the publication.

Doctors have told the family that they should prepare for the worst. Zeryihun added: "Told me the bad news that he's not going to survive, he's not going to make it. 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."

Sadly, the Blackout Challenge has already led to the deaths of a 9-year-old boy from Trinidad and a 10-year-old girl from Italy.

TikTok logo in App Store seen displayed on a smartphone screen
TikTok logo in App Store seen displayed on a smartphone screen. Picture: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you see anyone participating in the challenge or encouraging others to do so it's important to report the videos to TikTok. Joshua's family hope sharing their story will encourage others to speak publicly about the dangers of challenges like these and stop any other children getting hurt. A GoFundMe has been set up to cover Joshua's medical expenses.

Zeryihun continued: "I'm paying the price right now. I'm living the life, and I hate for other parents to go through this."