One man learned the hard way that mixing live fish and alcohol is apparently not a good idea.
Doctors from the University Medical Center in Rotterdam recently detailed in Acta Oto-Laryngologica Case Reports the story of a 28-year-old man in the Netherlands who, after drinking an “excessive” amount of beer with his friends and reportedly using ecstasy, swallowed a live fish that became lodged in his throat.
The reported incident occurred one afternoon in April 2016. The man and his friends — reportedly inspired by the crude and stunt-filled show “Jackass,” specifically the episode where stuntman Steve-O swallows a live goldfish — decided to swallow live fish from a home aquarium.
At first, the group of friends swallowed goldfish, which “passed smoothly,” the case report’s authors write.
Shortly after, the 28-year-old man, who was not identified in the report, volunteered to swallow another fish, which he would soon find out would not pass so swimmingly: a spiky, bronze catfish.
As the man’s friends chanted “Grote vis! Grote vis!” (Dutch for Big fish! Big fish!”), a video of the occurrence, which was not shared, reportedly shows the man taking a big swig of beer before swallowing the fish.
But the creature apparently put up a fight, extending the spines and sharp barbs located on its dorsal, pectoral and adipose fins to prevent itself from sliding down his throat. When attacked, the spines on its pectoral fins are also known to release a poison which is “generally harmless,” according to the report.
The fish quickly became lodged there, which caused the man to gag.
The patient was “clearly in distress” the case report’s authors said, adding he then used “two fingers to induce [his] gag reflex.”
But the catfish remained stuck.
One of the man’s friends then reportedly tried to apply the Heimlich maneuver but was unsuccessful.
The man continued to gag before spewing blood into a bucket.
“After several hours of unsuccessful self-applied treatment with more beer, honey and ice cream, the patient finally presented himself to the emergency department,” the authors wrote.
After arriving at the hospital, doctors used a surgical procedure to carefully remove the fish — which was then dead — and its spines from his throat.
Luckily for the man, his “esophagus showed no signs of perforation,” the authors wrote, noting the fish’s venom didn’t appear to adversely affect the man.
The man fully recovered a couple of weeks later, they said, and will probably think twice before ever swallowing a fish again.
In fact, this case illustrates how “a reckless drinking game” and imitating the show “Jackass” “can turn into a dangerous and critical medical situation with serious consequences,” they wrote.
As for the fish, its remains are on display at the Natural History Museum Rotterdam. It is a featured attraction at the Dead Animal Tales exhibit, which shows the sometimes “dramatic consequences” of human and animal interactions.