Mother needed surgery after accidentally swallowing a Covid SWAB

Mother accidentally swallowed a six-inch Covid SWAB: 31-year-old needed emergency NHS surgery after test got stuck in her throat

  • Care worker Bobby Lee took a Covid test last month after feeling ill after a shift
  • But the swab got stuck down her throat and one point she struggled to breathe
  • She rushed herself to A&E where surgeons eventually pulled the swab  back out

A mother needed emergency surgery to remove a six-inch-long Covid swab that got stuck in her throat.

Bobby Lee, 31, said she briefly feared for her life after accidently swallowing the test last month.

Ms Lee is just one of hundreds of Britons who have reported being hurt while using routine Covid tests, as MailOnline revealed in April.

The mother-of-two was home alone with her youngest child when she decided to take the test as she was feeling unwell after working a night-shift.

However, upon putting the swab in her mouth, the care worker revealed it ‘twanged back’ and got stuck.

Unsure of what to do, Ms Lee, from Peterlee in County Durham, tried to swallow the swab but it got lodged part-way down her throat. 

She then raced to her local A&E, where medics said they had never seen a similar case. 

Ms Lee was then transferred to a nearby hospital where she underwent emergency surgery.

Surgeons managed to find the swab by shoving a thin, flexible camera down her throat, before using tools to pull it out.

Mother of two and care worker Bobby Lee said she briefly left unable to breathe after accidently swallowing a Covid text swab

Footage from the emergency surgery shows medics extracting the swab from her throat

The swab after it was removed from Ms Lee’s throat, the 31-year-old is just one of hundreds of Britons who say they have been injured using Covid tests


Headaches: less than five

Allergic reaction: 7

Choking: 5

Nose bleeds: less than 5

Respiratory tract infection: less than 5  

Sore throat: less than 5

Hot flashes: less than 5 

Skin inflammation: less than 5

Swelling: less than 5


Allergic reactions: 7  

Choking: 8

Nose bleeds: less than 5

Sort throats: less than 5

Swelling: less than 5

Loss of consciousness: less than 5

Emotional changes: 25

Asthma: less than 5

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder: less than 5

Cough: less than 5

Nasal obstruction: less than 5

Sneezing: less than 5

Vomiting: less than 5

Joint dislocation: less than 5

Foreign body in patient: less than 5

Fluid discharge: less than 5

She said when the swab initially became stuck she thought she had no option but to try to swallow it.

‘The stick twanged in my mouth and got stuck at the back of my throat, with the swab down my throat and the end stuck in the roof of my mouth at the back,’ she said.

‘I tried to remove it but just couldn’t get it out, so I literally thought to myself I was going to have to try and swallow it.

‘I swallowed, and it went down a bit, but it only went half way down my throat so you could see the end of it sticking out of my throat.’

At one point, Ms Lee said she felt she couldn’t breathe.  

‘I didn’t even ring 111 because I had my little girl with me, I just jumped in the car and drove straight to A&E,’ she said.

‘I was just shocked because I didn’t know what was going to happen, if I was going to stop breathing with the little one on my own.’

Upon arriving at A&E, she said medics initially didn’t know what to do.

‘Every time I was swallowing I couldn’t feel it at the back of my throat anymore, but you could still see it,’ she said.

‘They’d never experienced the issue though so they didn’t know what to do. I was breathing alright, but you could still see it.’

Discussing her eventual surgery, Ms Lee said: ‘It had to come out of my mouth though as if it had gotten into my intestines it would have punctured them.

‘It really was scary, but I’m just glad I had the sense to jump straight in the car. It could have ended up fatal.’

Ms Lee is just one of hundreds of Britons who claim to have been injured using Covid tests.

Last month, a MailOnline investigation found there have been 3,000 reports of people being injured using Covid tests reported in the UK since the start of the pandemic. 

Similar to Ms Lee’s experience, 13 Britons have reported choking on the swabs with some test kits, such as older lateral flows and PCR tests, requiring people to rub the swab at the back of their throat. 

A dozen or so people also reported experiencing nose bleeds and hot flashes after their test.

Now recovering from her ordeal, Ms Lee said she is happy she went to A&E immediately after swallowing the swab considering she was at home with only her youngest child at the time

Medics had to insert a thin and flexible camera down Ms Lee’s throat to find and extract the lodged swab. Alongside Ms Lee, 13 other Britons have claimed to have choked on the swabs used in some Covid test kits

The figures, obtained by this website via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, are only a snapshot however.

Many more people will not have reported an incident to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the body in charge of safety monitoring. 

The MHRA has said the reporting of an adverse testing incident in its database ‘does not necessarily mean the events described were caused by that medical device’.

Officials encourage everyone to record any incidents that occur from them getting tested.

The MHRA says this enables them to investigate any serious problems and log them, to prevent similar incidents in the future. 

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