Meatless Monday: Man almost dies after swallowing fish he was kissing, not eating

Sam Quilliam caught a fish, but the fish fought back and almost led to the fisherman’s death.

It all started when the British man was fishing with friends. He caught a Dover sole. The fish ended up getting stuck in Quilliam’s throat when he gave it a kiss.

The slipper sole jumped from Quilliam’s hands and down into his windpipe like a “bar of soap.”

His friends called the emergency line.

When paramedics arrived at Boscombe pier on October 5, Quilliam’s friends were already performing CPR under the guidance of the emergency services.

The ambulance crews said they had no idea what they would find when the arrived less than two minutes later. The only information had from the emergency call was that a man had started choking and had now stopped breathing.

Some of Quilliam’s friends were waiting for the ambulance while another friend was doing CPR.

You can listen to the emergency call here.

Initial assessment by Specialist Paramedic Matt Harrison confirmed that the patient was in a desperate situation, with a blocked airway and was now in cardiac arrest.

As the paramedics questioned the friends further, it appeared that Quilliam, 28, had been joking around with a fish he had just caught.

The patient had put the fish over his mouth but the fish wiggled free, promptly jumping straight down the patient’s throat causing a complete obstruction.

Martyn Box the Operations Officer who also attended the incident said

The boys were giving really good CPR on our arrival as instructed by the Control room staff. 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’.

As the patient’s heart had already stopped, we continued CPR and achieved the return of a pulse after about 3 minutes, and then transferred the patient quickly by stretcher to the ambulance.

Further assessment of the patients’ airway indicated that despite artificially ventilating him with a bag and mask, the patient’s chest remained silent, suggesting that there was total airway occlusion and despite best efforts he was not receiving any oxygen.

Matt Harrison said that re-assessment of the patient once in the ambulance indicated further deterioration and we once again began to lose cardiac output.

It was clear that we needed to get the fish out or this patient was not going to survive the short journey to 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.”

Eventually after six attempts the fish came out in one piece and to our amazement it was a whole Dover Sole, measuring approx. 14cm in length.

Harrison said it was one call he won’t ever forget.

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.”

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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