Parents Issue Urgent Warning After Toddler Swallows 28 Magnets From Popular Toy

toddler swallows buckyballs magnets
Fox 31 News

As parents, we spend a lot of time making sure our kids don't swallow things they shouldn't -- small toys, our favorite pair of earrings, even the nickels and dimes they find at the bottom of our purse. Unfortunately, our constant vigilance doesn't always pay off. Sometimes it's the dangers we least expect that pose the biggest risks. Kyle and Elizabeth McBrien are issuing a warning to other parents after they say their toddler ended up in the hospital from swallowing popular toy magnets.


According to the couple, 2-year-old Ella was at home with her father when he stepped away for a few moments to use the bathroom. He says he came back to find his daughter had gotten ahold of some of Buckyballs -- stackable toy magnets -- from his desk. Knowing Ella had a habit of putting things in her mouth, the father was immediately concerned.

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Both parents took Ella to Children's Hospital Colorado, where doctors performed X-rays on the little girl and quickly spotted an astonishing 28 tiny magnets in her body.

child swallows buckyballs magnets
Fox 31 News

Because the toys she swallowed are magnetic, X-rays showed all of the toys had come together to form a small circle in the little girl's bowel.

"They were pinching [the] bowel and causing the early formation of a hole within the bowel by the time we got in there," Dr. Robert Kramer, co-medical director of the Digestive Health Institute and the director of endoscopy at Children's Hospital Colorado, told local Fox 31 News. 

Thankfully, after two different attempts, the physician was able to remove the items with a specialized endoscopy, and the little girl avoided surgery.


Buckyballs, which have also spawned several copycat toys, have only recently been released back onto the market after a two-year ban following multiple injuries caused by children's swallowing them. It's common for kids to put any kind of magnetic toy in their mouths, and unfortunately, not every case of a child's swallowing magnets ends well. Because it's so easy for the magnets to pinch and damage the bowel, many doctors are forced to remove actual pieces of the bowel due to these accidents.

"That can have very significant implications. In the worst cases there have been deaths associated with these [kinds of toys]," said Dr. Kramer.

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Two-year-old Ella is expected to make a full recovery, and her parents say she was up and playing only two hours after her endoscopy. "Huge relief, huge relief," her mom told Fox 31 News. "[To] see her now, she clearly doesn't look like she had two procedures last week."

Still, seemingly harmless magnets may be one toy that you want to keep far away from small kids.

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