A 12-year-old schoolboy has undergone life-saving surgery after he deliberately swallowed 54 toy magnets as part of an 'experiment'.Rhiley Morrison
A 12-year-old schoolboy has undergone life-saving surgery after he deliberately swallowed 54 toy magnets as part of an ‘experiment’.
Rhiley Morrison, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, ate the magnetic balls across two separate occasions to see if they would make metal objects stick to his stomach – as well as being curious about what they would look like when he passed them.
But when the metal balls had still not appeared four days later he told to his mother Paige Ward, 30, that he had swallowed two ‘by accident’.
She rushed him to hospital where doctors carried out an x-ray and were stunned to discover 54 of the powerful magnet toys in his stomach and bowel.
Doctors feared the magnets might burn through tissue or vital organs, which could have caused potentially fatal internal damage, and rushed Rhiley into surgery where the objects were scooped out during a six-hour operation.
Rhiley Morrison, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, has undergone life-saving surgery after swallowing 54 magnets as an ‘experiment’ (pictured after the operation)
He ate the magnetic balls (pictured) to see if they would make metal objects stick to his stomach as well as being curious about what they would look like when he passed them
Rhiley is now recovering at home and his mother hopes to share his 16-day hospital ordeal to educate parents about the potential dangers of magnetic ball toys and urge them to be binned before it happens again.
Paige said: ‘I was gobsmacked, just speechless when I heard the number he’d swallowed.
‘The doctors guessed around 25- 30 from the x-ray, but when he came out of surgery they said they got 54.
‘I think what made it harder is that I just didn’t understand how or why he would swallow that many.
But when the metal balls had still not appeared four days later Rhiley (pictured before the incident) told to his mother that he swallowed two ‘by accident’
He was rushed to hospital and doctors carried out an x-ray and were stunned to discover 54 of the powerful magnet toys in his stomach and bowel (pictured)
‘Rhiley is massively into science, he loves experiments, he eventually admitted “I tried to stick magnets to me, I wanted to see if this copper would stick to my belly while the magnets were in”.
‘It’s just so silly, but he’s a child and that’s what kids do. He also thought it would be fun seeing them come out the other end.’
Rhiley, who has autism and ADHD, asked for magnet toys for Christmas and bought the additional £4.99 magnetic balls from a corner shop with money he had saved up.
It is thought that Rhiley swallowed the first batch on January 1 and the second lot on January 4.
Rhiley became worried when none of the magnets passed through his system and woke full-time mother and carer Paige up at 2am on January 5 who took him to Salford Royal Hospital.
Rhiley’s mother Paige (pictured) now hopes to share his 16-day hospital ordeal to educate parents about the potential dangers of magnetic ball toys
Doctors feared the magnets might burn through tissue or vital organs, which could have caused potentially fatal internal damage, and rushed Rhiley into surgery where the objects were scooped out during a six-hour operation (pictured after keyhole surgery)
He was then sent by ambulance to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where Rhiley was placed on the list for emergency surgery and had a keyhole procedure to remove the magnets.
Due to complications related to ingesting the powerful magnets, Rhiley spent 10 days unable to move without vomiting green liquid caused by his bowel leaking.
He was also unable to eat or go to the toilet and needed to be tube-fed and have a catheter inserted.
Mother-of-four Paige said: ‘It was heartbreaking watching him go through all that, just horrible.
He was also unable to eat or go to the toilet and needed to be tube-fed and have a catheter inserted
‘I think it’s especially difficult because of Covid because he couldn’t have any visitors.
‘It was horrible to see him not able to sit up and being so sick every time he moved because this fluid was sloshing around inside him.
‘I’d managed to hold it together all the time but it wasn’t nice seeing him in that much pain.
‘When they tried to put the catheter in he had pins and needles through his body and told me ‘I feel like my insides are going to explode’.
‘I remember thinking, I can’t believe all this is happening because of magnets.
‘When I went into hospital I thought ‘god they’re going to think how has she let him do that?’
‘A trauma nurse came in and told me she deals with kids like Rhiley who’ve eaten magnets all the time.
On January 21, Rhiley was discharged (pictured) and given a week-long course of antibiotics to stave off infection
‘Another doctor said he’d seen a child who’d swallowed two who ended up with part of their bowel removed so Rhiley was very lucky with 54.’
On January 21, Rhiley was discharged and given a week-long course of antibiotics to stave off infection.
Paige, who is also mother to Caitlynn Ward, 11, Madison Ward, 10, and four-year-old Phoebe Ward, said: ‘I got rid of all the magnet toys after this.
‘He is autistic but he’s quite high functioning. He knows what he’s doing, he knows right from wrong.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF SWALLOWING MAGNET BALLS?
If a child swallows the small balls, magnets effectively burn holes in their intestines or bowels.
The magnets stick together internally and through organs and tissues, and can cut off blood supply causing tissue to die.
They are much more complex than button batteries to extract.
The child will need emergency surgery, then, depending on the severity of the injuries, they may need numerous operations, bowel resection and time in paediatric intensive care.
Source: Child Accident Prevent Trust
‘He’s just made a mistake and unfortunately it was one that could have cost him a lot.’
Paige now hopes to share Rhiley’s story to ensure no other family goes through the same experience.
She said: ‘I don’t want other kids or parents going through that.
‘When he did it I thought it was just him, he’s just been silly and done it, but the surgeon said they see this all the time.
‘Magnets aren’t toys, they shouldn’t be sold as toys.
‘My message to other parents is to just put them in the bin, don’t buy them in the first place.
‘I don’t care how nice they look and how many children ask for them because they’re ‘cool’, they’re just not worth it.
‘The surgeon said that if Rhiley didn’t tell me that day he’d swallowed the magnets he could have died.
‘They could have clashed and ripped his bowel and he could have ended up with sepsis.
‘Rhiley was lucky but some kids aren’t and won’t be.
‘I’m not sure why he told me, he wasn’t in any pain, I just thank god he did.
‘He’s taken all of his magnets out of his room now, he won’t entertain them.. It was a really traumatic lesson for both of us.’
In footage from his hospital bed Rhiley said: ‘My advice is never ever eat magnets, bin them, whisk them away and make sure they do not exist.’
Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said: ‘Rhiley was lucky to be treated so quickly and avoid more serious injury.
‘We’ve heard of increasing numbers of children swallowing magnets and we know doctors are worried.
‘If you look online, you’ll find lots of magnetic toys. The trouble is, there’s no way to tell if they are safe or 10 times stronger than the legal limit.
‘Many parents assume that, if they can buy something, it must be safe. Paige is doing a great service for other families by speaking out about these hidden dangers.’
Doctor warns of the potentially fatal effects of the magnetic ball craze which has left at least four other children needing surgery
Last year, one doctor from Stockport issued an open letter to parents warning of the potentially fatal effects of the magnetic ball craze which has left at least four other children needing surgery – including a six-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy.
The letter read: ‘I would like to highlight the dangers of these highly magnetic balls.
‘These very small (usually 3 to 5mm) balls are widely available to buy in the UK and are sold as a “creative toy.”
‘I cannot emphasise how dangerous these can be if swallowed. These balls have already been banned in other countries because of their risk to children.
‘You may wonder why a child would swallow these or you may think “my child wouldn’t swallow them”, but I plead with you to not take the risk.
Earlier this year, one doctor from Stockport issued an open letter to parents warning of the potentially fatal effects of the magnetic ball craze (stock image)
‘Apparently, some children have been creating a larger ball using numerous balls and putting them in their mouth, then placing other balls on the outside of their face.
‘They then use their tongue to move the larger ball in their mouth to make the balls on their face move, which understandably kids find amusing.
‘However, some of the individual balls in their mouth can come away and be accidentally swallowed.
‘The balls are highly magnetic and can cause severe damage to the digestive tract.
‘As the balls move through the bowel, they can magnetise together even when in different parts of the bowel.
‘The pressure applied to the bowel tissue lying between the two magnets is so strong that it causes a perforation in the bowel.’
The doctor added: ‘This is extremely serious and can be fatal if not identified and promptly fixed by abdominal surgery.
‘There has been a case locally in which a young child needed abdominal surgery and within Stockport, I am aware of at least another three cases.
‘Please do not buy these for your children and if you already have them consider removing them.’