A British man’s heart stopped after he accidentally swallowed a 6-inch long Dover sole on a fishing trip in Boscombe, in southern England.
The man, 28, who was not named, went into cardiac arrest on Oct. 5 after the fish leapt into his mouth, completely blocking his throat. However, paramedics were able to clear his airway after drawing the sole free with a forceps. They saved his life.
Matt Harrison, an emergency responder for the South Western Ambulance Service, said he was on the scene in less than two minutes. When he arrived on the dimly-lit pier where the man was fishing, a friend of the casualty was already performing CPR.
The man’s friend, also not named, told Harrison he had jokingly placed a fish he had just caught over his mouth. The sole then wriggled free and jumped into the patient’s throat, causing a complete obstruction.
“Initially we didn’t know the true extent of the situation or what the patient was choking on, but as we questioned them further we were told he had a whole fish stuck in his windpipe,” said Martyn Box, another paramedic who attended the incident.
As the patient’s heart had already stopped, paramedics continued CPR.
He was then artificially ventilated with a bag and mask, but his airway remained blocked and he wasn’t receiving any oxygen.
The man began to deteriorate.
Harrison said: “It was clear that we needed to get the fish out or this patient was not going to survive the short journey to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
“I used a laryngoscope to fully extend the mouth and throat and saw what appeared like an altered colour of tissue in his throat.
“Using a McGills forceps I was able to eventually dislodge the tip of the tail and very carefully, so as not to break the tail off I tried to remove it — although the fish’s barbs and gills were getting stuck on the way back up.
“I was acutely aware that I only had one attempt at getting this right as if I lost grip or a piece broke off and it slid further out of sight then there was nothing more that we could have done to retrieve the obstruction.”
After six attempts, the fish finally came out in one piece. To paramedic’s amazement, it was a whole Dover sole, measuring about 6 inches.
Harrison said: “I have never attended a more bizarre incident and don’t think I ever will — but we’re all so glad the patient has no lasting effects from his cardiac arrest, which could so easily have had such a tragic and devastating outcome.”
After the patient arrived at hospital, he was able to respond to some questions, and has since made a full recovery.