He was not yet two-years-old, blue and out of breath.
With a chicken bone blocking his airway, Stephane Cornille was the first patient treated at Starship Children's Hospital 21 years ago.
As Starship celebrated its coming-of-age birthday party yesterday Cornille recounted the story of how the hospital staff saved his life.
A bone had lodged in his lung so his mum rushed him to the newly opened hospital, but she did have her reservations.
"My mum was afraid the machines weren't going to work, but it worked out fine," Cornille said.
The bone had to be surgically removed and he spent a night in the new wards.
He suffered no long-term health effects - not even a scar.
Now aged 22, Cornille works in healthcare. He said he was inspired by his early visit to Starship.
His job at Fisher and Paykel Healthcare in Auckland sees him helping to market the machines used at Starship Children's Hospital.
But his helping hand doesn't stop there.
Last year he ran the Auckland full marathon to raise money for the Starship Foundation.
Cornille said he is happy to help a hospital dedicated to children.
"You see by the decorations and layout for the hospital it is made for children.
"They care about children and it's nice we can do that in New Zealand."
Hospital staff and friends threw a coming of age afternoon tea party, with cake included.
The hospital opened on November 18, 1991 and was the country's first hospital for children.
Starship gained its name by its shape and is built around a central atrium with a rainforest theme, a playground and natural light.
- © Fairfax NZ News