Tiny Wire From BBQ Brush Lands Teen in Surgery

A Washington state teen is recovering after a "violent" stomach ache landed him in a hospital where doctors performed exploratory surgery only to discover his problems stemmed from a BBQ brush wire that he unknowingly swallowed.

Tristin Beck, 16, of Mountlake Terrace, Wash., was admitted to Seattle Children's hospital late last week when his symptoms went from stomach pains to vomiting. Tristin told his parents it felt like he was being stabbed from the inside out.

On Sunday night, doctors performed exploratory surgery on his small intestine and found a problem no one expected.

"We saw the glisten of metal off the light. Another doctor said that looks like a wire from a BBQ brush," said Dr. Kimberly Riechle, a surgeon at the hospital. "It turns out Tristin unknowingly ate one of these, a wire - the size of a hair - from a common grill brush. It apparently came off and stuck to the chicken he was eating at a family BBQ."

As strange as it sounds, this is not the first time a wire from a grill brush has landed someone in the hospital. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning in the past about old BBQ brushes and the threat of tiny metal bristles rubbing off.

Doctors from Rhode Island Hospital reported in July 2012 that six people came to the emergency department from 2011 to 2012 with wire bristles from grill brushes lodged in their throats, stomachs, intestines or other organs after eating meat cooked on an outdoor grill.

Image credit: Ellen M Banner/AP Photo

Tristin's mother, Beth Beck, had never heard of the problem and is now heeding the CDC's warning and throwing out her BBQ brush. Beck is also urging other parents to check their brush right before the BBQ season heats up.

"I don't want anybody else to go through this. It's been horrible," Beck said.

Tristin, who described the pain as "pretty violent," is still in the hospital and expected to make a full recovery. He has gone from scared to overwhelmed about his strange close call.

"I have really bad luck because of this one in a million chance happened to me. But also really good luck because they found it so early and the doctors put me in the O.R. and got it out," Tristin said.

Tristin hasn't been able to eat solid food for days and is craving something delicious to chow down on, but he says, just don't offer him anything off the grill for a while.