Brian O’Neill, 51, was out celebrating with his wife and friends at The Grey Plume restaurant in Omaha when a piece of meat became lodged in his airway minutes before midnight.
A doctor sitting next to him used the Heimlich Maneuver, but had no luck, according to the station. Several other friends also tried to dislodge the food, but couldn’t.
As a last resort, the doctor performed an emergency tracheotomy using a butter knife, according to KETV.
The family said doctors told them the emergency tracheotomy did not cause more problems for O’Neill, who was already unconscious, or make the situation worse. They eventually found the piece of meat buried deep in his chest.
“No one should ever have to say goodbye to their brother or a loved one in this fashion,” his brother said. “It’s just awful, just awful.”
O’Neill is now at Nebraska Medicine, and his family and friends are praying for a miracle.