GP's tortoise brought back from dead with a kiss of life
A doctor has described how he spent six minutes giving life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – to his pet tortoise.
The eight-year-old tortoise, Atlas, had apparently drowned in its water bowl but was brought back to life by North Devon doctor Ben Waterfall.
The GP, who works at Brannam Medical Centre in Barnstaple, was walking past his pet's run when he saw him two-thirds submerged in his water bowl.
Dr Waterfall said: "I was watering the garden at about 7pm when I was walking past his run and saw his back feet sticking up out of the water. I pulled him out but he was not breathing and was completely floppy. I did six minutes of mouth-to-mouth before he slowly started breathing and blinking."
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Ben, 34, from Swimbridge, has lived in North Devon since 2001 with his wife, Subhani, and their two-year-old son, Harry.
He said he did not think twice about giving Atlas mouth-to-mouth.
He added: "I was quite emotional at the time.
"I first started doing it and I had my mouth over his whole head, mouth, nose and nostrils. Then I changed it to sort of breathing into his nostrils.
"He has a run outdoors which had some water in a concrete container about ten inches long – the same width as his shell. He had just fallen in. He was essentially dead."
Ben said he told his son Harry that Atlas had been swimming because the boy was too young to understand what was really going on.
He said: "My wife was putting Harry to bed when it was happening. We did tell him in the morning that Atlas had gone swimming and that we had saved him."
The family, who also have a cat, have had Atlas for a year and Ben said to lose him would have been devastating.
He said: "When my wife came downstairs she said that Atlas is supposed to outlive us. He is not supposed to die young at eight years old."
After the drama, Ben took Atlas in to the vet to check there was no lasting damage.
"He might have got some water on the lungs. But he was just prescribed some antibiotics and is otherwise fine.
"The guys at work think it is hilarious. There is a mixture of laughter and them kind of saying 'well done' for giving it a go."