Kids are curious, but sometimes the things they do can get them into serious trouble. 12-year-old Freddie Webster was trying out the latest schoolyard trend with his friends, but it ended up sending him to the hospital for emergency surgery after causing damage that could have killed him.
Freddie had put a magnetic ball bearing into his mouth, and used another on the side of his cheek. He wanted to test the magnetic ability, but he accidentally swallowed them. He didn’t think much of it, and continued to try it again and again. In the end he ended up swallowing four of the powerful magnets.
It wasn’t until hours later that it started to hurt. The magnets in his stomach had started to do serious damage to his small bowel.
His mom, Sarah, revealed that she had found out about the first two, but not the second set.
«Freddie had swallowed the first two magnets at school on the Tuesday, and although I didn’t know at the time, he then swallowed two more later that day. He told me on the Wednesday that he had swallowed two magnets and at that time I thought they would just pass.»
His stomach started hurting the next day, but after two days of pain, he finally revealed that it had been much worse than his mother knew.
«On the Wednesday night he started with stomach ache, but by the Friday morning he told me that the stomach ache wouldn’t go away and he said it had kept him awake the night before.»
She called the doctor right away.
«I rang the doctors on the Friday morning and I told them about swallowing the magnets. They asked how many he had swallowed, which is when Freddie told me it was four.»
They told her to go to the hospital immediately, because of the severe damage that the magnets could cause. They brought him in for an X-ray which revealed the dire truth of the situation…
Freddie’s x-ray revealed that the four magnets had all stuck together after causing extensive damage through his bowel. The doctors revealed that he was actually the fourth boy to be brought into the hospital for the same thing in the last couple months.
He was brought into surgery to repair the damage done by the magnets. «After four-and-a-half hours [the pediatric consultant] came out and said that Freddie was stable but very poorly and told us that the next 24 hours would be critical,» Sarah explained.
«He said as a medical professional he could not believe that he had not been in more pain. When I saw him in recovery he was wired up to drips and Freddie moved his oxygen mask and the first thing he said was ‘what about skiing’, because he was due to go on a skiing trip with school in March!»
She wants to warn other parents about the dangers that these magnets can cause. «I feel I am a fairly astute mum but I had no idea what damage these magnets could do. I thought they would just pass if you swallowed them. I want to warn other parents who don’t know about them and make people aware of the dangers they can cause.»
Freddie had to have 10 cm of his bowel removed during the operation. He stayed in the hospital for eight days following his surgery, and will have to continue to see doctors for the rest of his life to make sure his bowel remains operation.
Have you ever heard of this schoolyard challenge? Make sure your kids and grandchildren realize just how dangerous it is.