By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN
A 2-year-old boy from Florida is back in the hospital after suffering complications after swallowing part of a toy made up of small magnetic balls.
Hannah Arrington told CNN that Konin, the youngest of her five children, found the toy parts, commonly known as a Buckyball or Buckycube, after one of her older brothers brought her home from school in April.
The toys are marketed as table toys for adults and are made up of several small, high-powered magnetic balls.
After discovering the toy, Arrington and her husband threw it away, knowing the danger it could pose to their son. But they didn’t know the damage had already been done.
Konin began to experience abdominal pain and made an appointment with the doctor. But they decided to take him to the emergency room to rule out appendicitis or something more serious. An X-ray revealed the problem.
“On the X-ray, it showed a line that almost looked like a power cord for a fan,” Arrington said.
Doctors found that Konin swallowed 16 magnets that stuck together in his intestines, creating holes from his stomach to his colon, according to Arrington.
“We were taken from our local hospital to Arnold Palmer (Hospital for Children),” Arrington said. “He had the surgery and they ripped out four feet of his small intestine. He also had to fix the holes in the stomach, the holes in the large intestine and a part near the colon as well.”
After about a week in hospital, Konin was discharged and sent home. But he began to lose weight, and on Wednesday he was readmitted to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando. His mother said he was diagnosed with short bowel syndrome and must be in a feeding tube.
Parents need to be aware of the danger.
“I don’t think parents understand how serious these tabletop toys are,” Arrington said.
Referring to a recent trend in social media in which older kids swallow these toys to see if they stick to something magnetic, Arrington said he just wants parents to be on the lookout.
“We as parents want to take this to other parents and even kids who are thinking it will be a fun challenge, nothing is going to happen,” she said. “You can die from it, you can have lifelong problems, because look where we are.”
“Parents shouldn’t worry if their kids are going to bring home a toy that could kill a younger sibling,” she said.
Dr. Jenna Wheeler, an intensive care physician at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, told CNN that the hospital has treated four children for swallowing magnets from similar toys so far in 2021.
“The concern with swallowing these toys is that the intestines can get twisted and trapped between the magnets, which can disrupt blood flow to the intestines,” Wheeler said. “If this segment of the intestine dies, it may need to be removed. And if it’s not caught early enough, it can even lead to death. ”
Wheeler said that if the Buckycube or similar toy is in a house and a child experiences significant abdominal pain or a “hard” stomach, paleness or vomiting, it could be an indication that the child has swallowed part of the toy.
Symptoms are vague, she said, but “parents should definitely bring their children in to be checked if they have concerns.”
CPSC warned of the danger of magnetic toys
In June 2020, the CPSC said there was about 4,500 incidents of treated magnet ingestion in US hospital emergency departments from 2009 to 2018.
In 2012, the CPSC sued a manufacturer to stop the company from selling the product and give refunds to all buyers, saying the toy posed “a substantial risk of harm to the public.”