Inquest finds man died from choking on 6cm piece of steak

Inquest finds man died from choking on 6cm piece of steak

A 64-year-old man choking on a piece of steak ran next door to neighbours seeking help, an inquest heard.

Edward Healy of Dromheath Avenue, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15, was struggling to breathe as he banged on his neighbour's front door on June 17, 2017.

Aidan Burke, who is trained in first aid, answered the door and attempted the Heimlich manoeuvre in a bid to save Mr Healy’s life.

“It was around 7pm I heard banging on the front door. It was loud and kept going so I got out of the shower. Mr Healy was standing there holding his throat, struggling to breathe,” Mr Burke said.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard Mr Healy had undergone surgery for neck cancer in 2008 and had a hernia removed in hospital the day before his death.

Next door neighbour Liz Burke returned to the house to find Mr Healy at the front door looking distressed. “He was grabbing his throat and trying to tell us he was choking. He was clearly choking,” Mrs Burke said.

She phoned an ambulance. The Burke's tried to calm Mr Healy as he started to panic. He became weak.

“We got him to sit on a chair. His breaths got more shallow and he was struggling to breathe,” Mrs Burke said. Paramedics were called at 7.30pm and worked to save Mr Healy’s life at the scene.

He was transferred to Connolly Hospital arriving at 8.31pm. A large piece of meat, measuring 6cm by 1.5cm was removed from his windpipe. However, resuscitation efforts failed and he was pronounced dead at 8.37pm.

A post-mortem report gave the cause of death as asphyxia due to choking on a piece of meat. Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of accidental death.

“This can happen to anybody. One couldn’t discount some connection between his original surgery (in 2008) since he complained of difficulty swallowing after.

"A large piece of meat will not alter its shape or melt to open up the airway even a little to allow you to breathe. As oxygen levels go down, a person loses consciousness and the heart stops beating and that is what happened here,” Dr Cullinane said.

The coroner sympathised with the family noting the man had "come through a lot" in the form of cancer treatment and the removal of the hernia.

“This is something that happened out of the blue and despite being next door to good and immediate help, he still died. It is frightening to think how quickly this can happen,” Dr Cullinane said.

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