Radio Host's Son Endures Intestinal Damage From Magnets

Radio host's son hospitalized after swallowing putting a ball of 20 magnets.

March 29., 2011—, 2011 -- Television and radio personalities are used to talking about what happens in other people's lives, but for one Denver radio and TV host, the focus is now on her and her young son, who was hospitalized after he swallowed a handful of tiny magnets.

Denise Plante, the host of a morning radio show and a television show said on Facebook that her 8-year-old son accidentally swallowed the magnets after putting a ball of about 20 of them in his mouth. He was playing with what she said were the small magnets kids use to build things.

"Doing what a kid does, he stuck them in his mouth while joking around," Plante said. "The magnets were pulling his intestines together. He has five or six holes in his intestines and one hole in his stomach."

Plante went on to say her son is on a feeding tube and his stomach is being pumped. He's already had three surgeries and will be in the hospital at least another week.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it knew of more than 30 children who'd been injured after ingesting magnets. A 20-month-old child died and 19 others required surgery. The CPSC put out a special alert in 2007, warning parents of the dangers of small magnets and has recalled millions of toys because of the hazards posed by small magnets.

"If two or more magnets or magnetic components or a magnet and another metal object (such as a small metal ball) are swallowed separately, they can attract one another through intestinal walls. This traps the magnets in place and can cause holes (perforations), twisting and/or blockage of the intestines, infection, blood poisoning (sepsis), and death," the CPSC wrote in the alert.

Since then, some manufacturers of toys with small magnets have since encased the magnets in plastic, so they can't be swallowed.

One Little Boy's Struggle

Dr. Sanjeev Dutta, an associate professor at Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., wrote a case study of another little boy who swallowed a magnet from a toy set. In a 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, he discussed the case of Braden Eberle, then 4 years old.

He came to the emergency room after having stomach pain for several weeks, and Dutta had to remove the magnets, which were stuck together through the walls of different parts of Braden's intestine. He removed them laparoscopically, but Braden got an infection from the magnets and had to be hospitalized for six days.

This case drove Dutta to warn others of the dangers magnets pose to children.

"Magnets, when we were kids, were made of ferrite," Dutta said. "The new magnets are exponentially more powerful than the ferrite magnets. When they swallow these magnets, they could die from this."

Denise Plante is sending out her own warning about toys like the one her son was playing with.

"Please don't buy these for your kids, throw them out if you have them," she said.