Man has surgery to remove Apple AirPod lodged in his throat after he ate the ear bud in his sleep
A MAN who woke up struggling to breathe was left stunned when doctors told him he had swallowed an AirPod in his sleep – and needed surgery to remove it.
Brad Gauthier, 38 from Worcester, Massachusetts, went to bed on Monday night listening to music on his Apple AirPods, and on Tuesday morning was left gagging while trying to drink a glass of water.
Mr Gauthier woke up on Tuesday morning and noticed one of the earbuds were missing.
Unable to find the device, he carried on with his morning and spent about an hour shoveling snow from his driveway.
When he was unable to drink of water, his son suggested that perhaps he’d swallowed the missing AirPods.
Mr Gauthier said: “My wife mentioned it when I came in and we laughed about it, but something just clicked and I got a weird sinking feeling that I'd swallowed it in my sleep.”
“At that point, I putzed around for another 10 minutes thinking about it but we all determined it'd be better safer than sorry to go to hospital.”
Mr Gauthier rushed to the hospital, where hospital staff first suggested that the food from Gauthier's wife Heather's birthday party the night before could be the source of his discomfort but x-rays soon uncovered the real culprit.
The scans revealed that one of his wireless Apple headphones had become wedged in his oesophagus.
The blockage caused Mr Gauthier's throat to fill up with water as he tried to drink and made him feel as though he was choking.
Mr Gauthier said of the moment of truth: “It was pretty funny, when she [the hospital worker] left the room I could hear a bit of chatter outside – 'No it couldn't be?’”
“She came back in, looks at me and says: 'I'll be damned, you swallowed it.”
“They were all jaws a slack, looking at this x-ray, on the screen where you could see it in such clear definition. Fortunately, she was able to get me right through an endoscopy centre they're affiliated with.”
Doctors used a long, thin tube to retract the AirPod, which measures about two inches long.
While doctors were confident of success, they warned the father that there was a possibility the device could become dislodged and enter his stomach or lung passageway.
Fortunately, the surgery was a success and Mr Gauthier was shortly on his way home, having experienced no more than minor discomfort.
Mr Gauthier said of the ordeal: “The GI physician said it’s extremely uncommon for a blockage not to be painful or severely discomforting.”
“It never occurred to me that [sleeping with headphones] could be a safety hazard. I was really quite lucky.”
Mr Gauthier has thanked the hospital staff for their efforts and joked that, while the retrieved headphone is still working, its microphone function got broken on its unexpected journey.
He now wants to use his experience as a warning to other AirPod users – of the rare, but increasingly frequent, medical mishap that saw him in the emergency room.
And Mr Gauthier’s experience isn’t a one off.
In June of 2020, a 7-year-old was rushed to the emergency room after accidentally swallowing one of his AirPods.
The second-grader had received the headphones as a Christmas gift along with a new iPhone.
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