A 12-year-old schoolboy almost died after intentionally swallowing 54 toy magnets for an “experiment”.
Rhiley Morrison swallowed the magnetic balls on two occasions to find out whether metal objects stick to the stomach or not.
In addition to that, he felt curious about how they would look when he passed them.
However, when there was no trace of the metal balls for nearly four days, the 12-year-old told his mother, Paige Ward, 30, he had swallowed only 2 balls “by accident.”
His mother immediately had him rushed to the hospital. Doctors were shocked by the x-ray results, as they showed 54 strong magnetic toys in the boy’s bowel and stomach.
Doctors had feared the balls might burn through the boy’s vital organs and potentially cause fatal internal damage.
They then put him through a life-saving, six-hour surgery where they scooped out these magnets.
Thankfully, Morrison is now recovering at home, while his mom wants to tell his 16-day hospital story to raise awareness among parents about magnetic ball toys.
“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.”
“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.”
Her son, who has both ADHD and autism, wanted these magnet balls for Christmas. Afterward, he bought the additional magnetic balls for £4.99 from a corner shop with his savings.
After waking his mom up at 2 am to tell her about what he had done, the mother called an ambulance, which sent him to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. They placed him on the emergency surgery list, and he had a procedure to extract all the magnets.
Because of difficulties in ingesting these hard magnets, Morrison spent 10 days at the hospital vomiting green liquid caused by leakage in his bowel. He couldn’t eat or go to the bathroom, so he needed a feeding tube and a catheter.
His mother said:
“It was heartbreaking watching him go through all that, just horrible. 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.”
“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.”
“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 the 21th of January, the boy left the hospital, and they gave him a week-long antibiotic course to prevent infection.
After everything ended, his mom got rid of all the magnets. And she now hopes to ensure no one goes through this horrible experience.
“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.”
Chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, Katrina Phillips, 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.”
Of course, Morrison also learned something out of this, he said:
“My advice is never ever eat magnets, bin them, whisk them away and make sure they do not exist.”