New Zealand midwife cuts throat of choking boyfriend to save him

What would you do if your loved one was turning purple after choking on food?

For one gutsy midwife from New Zealand, it meant cutting her boyfriend's throat to save his life.

Isak Bester, 50, and his girlfriend Sarah Glass, 45, were enjoying a barbecue with friends near Waimarama Beach last month when he choked on a piece of steak.

To dislodge the object, they slapped on Bester's back, performed the Heimlich manoeuvre, and did chest compressions on him.

But first aid didn't help.

With Bester falling unconscious and missing a heartbeat, Glass asked for a knife. She was going to cut his throat to help Bester breathe.

Using a utility knife, Glass made four shallow incisions on his neck, with the last one into his airway, she told 1News.

By a stroke of luck, the midwife had on hand a home birth kit with an oxygen tank that she could use to give Bester oxygen.

Emergency services later arrived to take him to hospital where he remained in an induced coma for three days. He stayed there for another week.

What Glass did to save Bester's life is known as emergency tracheotomy - a procedure performed by paramedics and doctors to help patients breathe by creating a hole in the windpipe.

And if Bester had not received oxygen during the ordeal, he would've suffered brain damage or organ failure, his doctors said.

Although they praised the woman's quick thinking, doctors would not recommend anyone without medical training to follow her example.

A month after the incident, Bester is now on the road to making a full recovery.

"She's definitely a hero - it's pretty amazing," he said.