Chinese toddler has surgery to remove 21 magnetic beads from his stomach

Youngster in agony after swallowing tiny balls from his brother’s toy which formed a ring of metal inside his body

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 4:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 4:10pm

A toddler from northern China had to travel 300km to Beijing earlier this month to undergo emergency surgery after swallowing handfuls of tiny magnetic beads from a child’s toy.

The parents of the 14-month-old boy, from the coastal city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei province, took the drastic action after he developed a fever and began vomiting, Beijing Morning Post reported.

Doctors at the family’s local hospital identified the problem but were unable to perform the necessary procedure, so the youngster was referred to Beijing Children’s Hospital on May 11, the report said.

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Liu Tingting, head of emergency surgery at the hospital, was quoted as saying that the boy, who was not named, had probably had the metallic beads in his stomach for four or five days, and was clearly in agony.

“The beads formed a ring in his stomach, and although we got them all out during the operation, the baby suffered a lot of pain,” she said.

Surgeons removed a total of 21 beads, each measuring several millimetres in diameter, Liu said.

The situation was made worse by the fact the beads were magnetic, and so grouped together, she said.

There was a chance that the clump of beads could have caused scarring in the intestines and stomach. “In severe cases perforation [of the organs] will occur,” she said.

Despite his ordeal, the youngster was able to return home after a week in hospital, the report said.

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Liu expressed concern at what she said had been a spike in the number of cases of young children needing surgery to remove magnetic beads, which are a common feature of a range of currently popular toys.

“According to the child’s mother the toy belonged to her 13-year-old son, but the toddler had got hold of it without them knowing,” she said.

The report did not name the exact product, but Liu said parents of young children should not let them play with toys that have small parts.