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Fisherman 'lucky to be here' after Dover sole jumped down his throat

A fisherman whose prank almost killed him after the Dover sole he had just caught jumped down his throat when he posed with it over his mouth, has said he feels lucky "beyond winning the lottery" after paramedics managed to save him.

The 14cm (5.5in) fish completely blocked Sam Quilliam's airway, stopping him from breathing and causing him to go into cardiac arrest after he attempted to "kiss the fish", an angler's tradition of saying thank you to their catch before returning it to the water.

Yet as the 28-year-old explained, as he posed with the fish "it shot out of my hand, into my mouth and basically swam straight down my throat...

"You just don't expect it to happen," Mr Quilliam explained.

"People do things like this all the time and you just don't expect it to happen to you."

Sam Quilliam and his girlfriend Sandra Souto returned to the pier with the medical staff who helped to save him, including paramedic Matt Harrison (second left). Credit: PA

He continued he was "a bit shaken up by it all" but "alright" thanks to his luck at being saved, which he described as "beyond winning the lottery.

"I am lucky to be here with my mates, and my family are really grateful to all their great work."

Despite the severity of the situation he had been in just days before, Mr Quilliam managed to make light of the incident, joking that he hoped he "won't get done for taking an under-sized fish".

However, his friend Steven Perry, who was one of those who performed CPR on Mr Quilliam until paramedics arrived, was more sober about what happened, describing it as "horrendous".

He continued: "It was just sheer panic to see your friend dropping in and out of consciousness.

"When he went there was no pulse... it was horrendous.

"We've had people joking about it and taking the mic but if they were there and saw the severity of it they would never have laughed.

"We acted on our instincts and he's still here. I thought he was gone."

Steven Perry performed CPR on his friend until paramedics arrived. Credit: ITV News

The paramedics who attended to Mr Quilliam agreed that it was a "desperate" situation when they arrived and found him in cardiac arrest on Boscombe Pier in Dorset.

"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," Martyn Box from South Western Ambulance Service said.

The paramedics then used a pair of forceps to extract the lodged fish from the man's throat.

"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," Mr Box explained.

A Dover sole like this one became lodged in Mr Quilliam's throat. Credit: Flickr/NOAA/CBNMS

He added he was further worried that the fish's barbs and gills would get stuck on its way out, but on his sixth attempt, Mr Box managed to remove the fish in one piece.

"To our amazement it was a whole Dover sole," he recounted.

Paramedic Matt Harrison added he had "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".