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Massachusetts man left baffled as X-ray reveals he swallowed an AirPod while asleep

Sound sleeper! Massachusetts man, 38, left baffled as X-ray reveals he swallowed an AirPod while asleep and needed surgery to remove it

  • Brad Gauthier, 38, woke up with a strange feeling in his chest on Tuesday
  • The Worcester resident was unable to drink and struggled breathing so went to the hospital
  • X-rays revealed Gauthier’s missing AirPod had become lodged in his throat
  • An endoscopy successfully removed the gadget, which still works as a headphone 

A Massachusetts man who suddenly woke up struggling to breathe was stunned when doctors told him he had swallowed his one of his AirPods in his sleep.

Brad Gauthier, 38, from Worcester, went to the hospital on Tuesday after he was left gagging while trying to drink a glass of water after waking up.

X-rays revealed that one of his wireless Apple headphones had become wedged in his oesophagus.

The blockage caused Gauthier’s throat to fill up with water as he tried to drink and made him feel as though he was choking.

He was able to get the water out by leaning over and continued his day as normal, despite the strange sensation in his chest – evening clearing his driveway which had become covered with snow after a severe blizzard.  

During the day, Gauthier noticed that one of his earbud’s was missing. While his family helped look for it, they joked that, as he had a sore chest, perhaps he had swallowed it.

Massachusetts man Brad Gauthier (pictured), 38, suddenly woke up struggling to breathe was stunned when doctors told him he had swallowed one of his AirPods in his sleep

X-rays revealed that one of Gauthier's wireless Apple headphones (circled) had become wedged in his oesophagus

X-rays revealed that one of Gauthier’s wireless Apple headphones (circled) had become wedged in his oesophagus

‘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.’

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.

‘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,’ Gauthier said.

The 38-year-old believes that the AirPod somehow entered his mouth while he was sleeping after he went to bed with them in.

The 38-year-old believes that the AirPod (pictured) somehow entered his mouth while he was sleeping after he went to bed with them in [Stock image]

The 38-year-old believes that the AirPod (pictured) somehow entered his mouth while he was sleeping after he went to bed with them in [Stock image]

Pictured L-R: Gauthier with his wife Heather, six-month-old daughter Avianna, and son Owen, 15

Pictured L-R: Gauthier with his wife Heather, six-month-old daughter Avianna, and son Owen, 15

He was extremely fortunate, however, as the position the earbud had lodged in had prevented it from causing serious damage.

‘Had I inhaled it or it had gotten lodged or constricted my airway that could have certainly been a significantly more serious matter,’ Gauthier said.

‘You don’t have a lot of runway if you obstruct your breathing and something happens, who would even think that’s what it was if you wake up to something like that.’ 

‘I’m really lucky things happened the way they did and got it resolved so quickly, along with it being wedged in the position that it was.’

The endoscopy to remove the offending AirPod was not without risks. While doctors were confident of success, they warned Gauthier that there was a possibility the device could become dislodged and enter his stomach or lung passageway.   

Fortunately, the surgery was indeed a success and Gauthier was able to have a meal shortly afterwards and even return home to work.

Gauthier has thanked staff for their efforts but joked that, while the retrieved headphone is still working, its microphone function got broken on its unexpected journey.

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