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Haizea in the hospital bed after the operation. @haaiizzee
How a Spanish woman swallowed a toothbrush while choking on a slice of ham

How a Spanish woman swallowed a toothbrush while choking on a slice of ham

The plastic brush was used in a desperate attempt to force the food down the right way, but she didn't expect what happened next

Bruno Vergara

Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 10:35

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A Spanish woman who swallowed a toothbrush as she was choking on a slice of ham has spoken out about the bizarre incident in a bid to warn others.

Haizea returned to her home in Galdakao in the Basque Country from university last Wednesday 29 November like any other day and snacked on some ham. She ate several slices without problem, until the last piece. The 21-year-old at first thought it had just "gone down the wrong way", but then she started to struggle breathing. "I felt like I was drowning," she told SUR.

Her grandmother and father were at home, but he couldn't act quickly as he was in a wheelchair with a ruptured achilles tendon. "He couldn't help me quickly," Haizea said. So in that moment of desperation she tried to pull the slice out without thinking twice. "I tried with my hands, but I couldn't," she pointed out. Her next instinct was to grab a toothbrush and, holding it by the bristles, reached in to try to dislodge the ham. "Suddenly I noticed that the brush was going further into my mouth, I tried to grab it by the bristles, but my throat sucked it in," Haizea said.

But she had stopped choking. "I felt like I had something in my chest, but it didn't hurt, it almost didn't bother me," she added. Her family drove her to the hospital in Galdakao where an X-ray revealed the plastic toothbrush was inside her. She was told she would have to have a gastroscopy.

She woke up after the procedure to find the toothbrush next to her pillow. "Surprisingly it didn't hurt at all, it was as if nothing had happened."

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