Tom Pearson says a one- legged pelican named Roger has saved his life.
The 92-year-old Port Macquarie resident regularly feeds a pod of pelicans most afternoons at his home on the canals.
Among the six or seven regulars – as Tom calls them – are Roger and another one-legged female called Marilyn.
Mr Pearson says Roger and Marilyn are notoriously vicious at feeding time. They have been known to get aggressive with each other during their feeding.
It was during one of their feeding frenzies that things got out of hand for Mr Pearson.
"I was feeding the pod on November 30 when Roger got a bit too close and I got bitten on my right hand," said Mr Pearson.
"I was bleeding pretty badly and thought I might have to get some stitches. So I took myself to the base hospital to have it checked out.
"While they were treating me – I eventually didn’t require stitches – the nursing staff suggested that I might have to stay overnight for some more tests.
"However, that couldn't happen because I had my little dog Sally with me. After a bit of discussion it was decided that I would report back to the hospital at 7am."
After arranging a friend to look after his dog, Mr Pearson says he returned to the hospital where he underwent a series of tests.
"One of the staff told me that my heart rate was not very good - it was sitting around the late 30s - and that I would need to be airlifted to Sydney.
"They told me that I would have to go to Prince of Wales for a complete check up and, possibly, a pacemaker.
"That was a complete shock to me.
"The following day I was flown to Sydney and, after further tests, I had a pacemaker fitted on December 4."
Mr Pearson says he is still trying to come to terms with what happened.
"Did Roger the pelican's bite possibly save my life?" he asked.
"I cannot fault the medical staff at the base hospital or the Prince of Wales.
"I am very appreciative for the work they all do and the air crew that flew me to Sydney."
Mr Pearson says he should probably thank Roger the Pelican too.