Friends and family desperately tried to save New Zealand man Mike Worley when he began choking at a barbecue.

Despite their best efforts, he died in hospital four days later.

The 55-year-old Christchurch man was a passionate family man, sport enthusiast and was “larger than life”, brother Anton Worley said.

Mike Worley, 55, was “always there to lend a hand”, his brother says. (Supplied)

On March 3, Worley was at a barbecue at his brother’s home.

He was eating leftover steak in the kitchen when some of the meat obstructed his throat.

“He sort of said ‘I’m choking’ and at that stage there were two other good mates there. Straight away we started first aid on him,” his brother said.

Anton Worley and a friend who was there both had their current first aid certificates.

They were unable to dislodge the food before Worley collapsed.

“When he’s lying on his back, we’re trying to work out how to release this blockage and what other first aid to do.”

A first responder arrived within seven minutes, and they continued CPR until an ambulance arrived.

Worley had a laugh that could fill a room, loved ones said. (Supplied)

They managed to dislodge the food, but he never regained consciousness.

He died in hospital, surrounded by family, on March 7.

Worley has donated his organs, including his kidneys, heart and liver.

Choking incidents are not uncommon, according to Dr Craig Ellis, Hato Hone St John’s deputy clinical director.

The charity responded to 1505 choking incidents in New Zealand in 2022 – 803 involving adults and 702 children. It did not have figures on how many of those proved fatal.

Anton Worley said the incident was “pretty traumatic”, though he was glad he and a friend who was there had current first aid certificates.

“It was reassuring to know what to do in that situation.”

His brother was fit and healthy – something he worked hard to maintain for the carpet and vinyl business he had been running for the last 35 years.

“Larger than life – he had a laugh that filled the room, and you’d hear him before you saw him.

“He was always there to lend a hand, and he really supported his daughters Charlotte and Lucy with their passions, particularly gymnastics when they were younger.”

Anton Worley said his brother liked keeping active.

He did pilates regularly and was a member of the HIIT Squad gym, where he took part in high-intensity interval training sessions, and had recently signed up again at a boxing gym.

Worley had a big social network too, with about 750 people attending or watching his funeral service – proving how much of an impact he had within his community, his brother said.

Ellis said people could do everything right to try stop someone choking, but “it’s sometimes not successful”.

“It depends on what (the food) is, where it is wedged and depends on a whole lot of variables at play.

“People can only do their best, and sometimes it’s not enough, but that doesn’t mean they did anything wrong.”

Ellis encouraged everyone to do a first aid course, which would cover what to do if someone was choking and what to do if you were choking and were by yourself.

“The general rule of thumb if they are conscious and able to, is to encourage them to cough. Encourage them to generate pressure.”

If the obstruction does not clear, call for an ambulance and begin CPR if the person stops breathing.

This article was originally published on Stuff and has been reproduced with permission.

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