Kissing a fish may sound like a good idea—but it can be deadly.
British fisherman Sam Quilliam was pleased with his catch, a six-inch Dover sole, so much so that he kissed it—and that’s when his life flashed before his eyes.
The fish wiggled out of his hands and jumped down his throat. It blocked his airway, immediately sending the 28-year old into cardiac arrest.
Paramedic Matt Harrison was the first to respond to the scene at the pier in Boscombe, a town on England’s southern coast. He found the fish had maneuvered its way into Quilliam’s mouth, and soon realized he had to be careful in getting it out. He needed to remove it in one piece, so as not damage Quilliam’s airway.
“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 slid further out of sight, then there was nothing more I could have done to retrieve the obstruction. “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,” Harrison later said.
During removal, the fish’s barbs and gills became stuck, but thankfully, he was finally able to extract the fish in one piece.
Paramedics were able to restart Quilliam’s heart, and he’s now on the mend.
Harrison called the incident the “most bizarre” he’d ever responded to but is pleased with the with how things turned out. “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,” Harrison said.
Will Quilliam keep his affections to himself next time? Not likely—he said he was merely following tradition when he kissed his first catch of the day, and the incident won’t deter him from doing it again. Next time, however, the fish will be “probably just a bit bigger … and not a sole.”