A Father's Day fishing trip in Maumelle, Ark., almost ended in tragedy when a 13-year-old boy was accidentally pricked by a catfish barb that reportedly came within centimeters of hitting a major artery.
The incident occurred at the family's home on Sunday when the boy's mother, Melissa Menchaca, was holding the fish while joking with her son, attempting to give him a kiss with the catfish when it jumped out of her hand and landed on her son's neck.
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"I wanted to give him a kiss and he got nervous, the fish flopped around, and it just smacked him on the neck
," she told local ABC News affiliate KATV.
Melissa's initial response was to remove the barb from her son's neck, however, after seeing how close it was to his artery, she stopped herself.
"I was going to pull it out and then I saw it was in this artery," she said to KATV. "It was like bulging out."
Melissa then called police and held the catfish still while its barb remained in her son's neck.
"I thought I was going to die," 13-year-old Aiden told the local news station.
"It didn't hurt until I realized it was in my neck," Aiden added. "When it got stuck I screamed like a girl as loud as I can."
Paramedics were surprised by what they saw, Melissa recalled.
"They were shocked, they were like, 'whoa, what's going on here," Melissa said.
The first responders reportedly had to wait 30 minutes until the fish calmed down before they could cut the fin and airlift the 13-year-old to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Unable to ride with him in the helicopter, Melissa and Aiden's father drove to the hospital, all the while praying, "please God don't take him from me," she said.
Physicians were able to safely remove the barb from Aiden's neck, subsequently conducting an ultrasound that revealed just how close Aiden came to possibly dying, Yahoo News reports.
Following a successful surgery, Aiden said hospital staff gave him a new nickname.
"When we were on the stretcher they were talking about my nickname being catfish," he said.
In addition to the nickname, Aiden says he also learned an important lesson: "Not to mess around with fish."
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