Product Safety Alert

I Thought It Was Gastro – 2-Year-Old’s Close Call after Swallowing Magnetic Toy

For weeks, mum Bree Davis watched her three boys – Hendrix, Harrison, and Franklin – play with a small rainbow magnetic toy they found at a local NSW park.

The brothers would spend hours and hours connecting the teeny tiny magnetic beads, building shapes, and searching for objects the magnetic balls would stick to.

Bree, who lives in NSW, supervised her boys, happy to see that they had an activity all three of them could play together.

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Franklin (holding the wheel), with big brothers Harrison and Hendrix. Source: Instagram

However, two weeks after the boys brought the toy home, Bree’s youngest son, 2-year-old Franklin woke up with a sore stomach. He stopped eating and drinking and, on the night of March 21st 2022, started to vomit every 15 to 30 minutes.

It was just liquid, no food or anything,” Bree says. “Gastro was going around so I thought that must be it.”

Four ED trips in four days

Bree remained up with her son throughout the night and called the doctor first thing in the morning.

The GP confirmed Bree’s initial thoughts – gastro – and Franklin was sent home to rest. However, for three days, Franklin wasn’t getting any better and he continued to complain of a sore belly.

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Source: Instagram

Bree took her son to the ED three separate times and each time left without answers.

Doctors performed ultrasounds and scans but everything looked clear and normal. Bree and Franklin returned home with the same recommendations – painkillers and monitor for changes.

Four days after Franklin first started to vomit, he returned to the ED. This time, not only was his tummy still hurting, but he also fell and split his lip open (as toddlers do). While he was having his lip looked at, he began complaining about his sore belly.

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Source: Instagram

This time around, the doctor performed keyhole surgery to check out the abdominal area, concerned it may be his appendix.

These should not be toys

The surgery was meant to take one hour.

For three long hours, Bree remained in the waiting room, pacing back and forth and waiting for the doctor to come out.

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Source: Instagram

When he did, he walked out holding a small clear container with 22 colourful magnetic beads. They had been removed from Franklin’s small intestine and bowel.

Some were found scattered in a snake-like formation around his digestive tract.

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The magnetic toy beads were founds throughout Franklin’s body. Source: Instagram

For three weeks, these magnetic balls had been inside Franklin’s body. As they made their way through Franklin’s digestive system, the magnetic force had pulled them together through the walls of his organs, corroding two holes in his small intestine.

‘We didn’t know he had swallowed them’

Bree was absolutely horrified when she saw the container of magnets.

For weeks her boys had been playing with them and not once had she seen them put them anywhere near their mouths. She also wasn’t aware of just how dangerous magnets can be for children if swallowed.

I know about button batteries and the danger of small things like that. But not these magnetic balls. It makes you wonder about everything else that has magnets in them.”

The surgeon who treated Franklin was also gobsmacked that the balls were marketed as toys for children. He also mentioned that he had another surgery booked that very same day to remove the same toy from an older boy.

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The toy that nearly cost Franklin his life. Source: Instagram

Since the surgery, Franklin is now recovering at home and back to his old self. Bree is now raising awareness about the dangers of magnetic toys and ensuring this doesn’t happen to another child. She shares her story on her Instagram page.

Any parents with young kids if you have these in your home get rid of them!”

Why are magnets so dangerous?

According to Paediatric surgeon Dr Chris Kimber,  the reason these magnets are so dangerous is not only because they are a choking hazard but because they can cause serious damage to your insides.

What happens is you have a magnet in one area of the bowel and another magnet in another area, and they attract each other and burn a hole through. If there are blood vessels in the way, they erode through them and cause significant bleeding.

These injuries can be “catastrophic” and potentially life-threatening.”

What should parents do if their toddler swallows a magnet

According to the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, if parents suspect a child has swallowed a magnet, they shouldn’t induce vomiting. Instead, call TRIPLE ZERO for an ambulance or report to their nearest hospital emergency department immediately. 

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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