A 21-year-old girl has told of her bizarre brush with death when she swallowed a toothbrush whole as she tried to shift a lump of food she was choking on.
The desperate girl, named only as Heizea in local Spanish media, had been snacking on cold turkey when it got stuck in her throat. blocking her windpipe on 29th November.
As she gasped for breath, Heizea grabbed her eight-inch-long toothbrush to try to dislodge the meat.
But she was horrified, reports local media, when she pushed too hard and the whole thing slipped down her throat.
Student Heizea, from Galdakao,in the Basque Country, explained later: “I had been enjoying the snack as I was hungry, and when I started to choke.
“My dad couldn’t help me because he’s stuck in a wheelchair with a damaged Achilles tendon, so I decided to help myself by using the toothbrush.
“I felt I was suffocating. I couldn’t breathe.
“Because it was only getting worse, I grabbed the first thing I could get hold of which was the toothbrush to try and dislodge it.”
But she added: “I tried to get it back out but I simply couldn’t budge it, it just went ‘glub’ it was sucked in, and there was nothing I could do.
“I tried to hold it by the bristles but once the obstruction was cleared, it just got sucked in.”
Her family rushed her to hospital but she said that although she could feel the brush inside there was no pain.
Heizea added: “I was just glad I could breathe again. But was really scared of what damage the toothbrush was doing.”
Surgeons eventually removed the brush in a 40-minute procedure carried out under sedation.
Heizea said: “I had the bizarre situation of explaining to the nurse and receptionist when they asked what’s wrong by saying that I swallowed a toothbrush.
“They all started rushing around and couldn’t believe it until they saw the x-rays, and it really was there.”
She added: “Having it stuck in my throat for three hours was weird.
“I could feel it there in my chest but it wasn’t painful.
“They sedated me at the end, I guess I was in operation for 40 minutes and I woke up with the toothbrush next to me on the bedside table.”
Surgeons said they managed to put a loop around the head of the toothbrush, which was 20 cm long, and simply pulled it free without needing to operate.