A mother from Indiana is sharing her son’s story this week with the hopes of warning other parents just how easily—and quickly—an everyday household item can turn dangerous.
Last September, Jessica MacNair found herself rushing her then 4-year-old son Peyton to the emergency room after he swallowed 27 magnets—two of which got stuck to the sides of his uvula.
Peyton, who has autism, had been playing with the magnets when his stepfather, Justin, stepped out of the room for a few minutes to take a call. According to MacNair, Peyton often made a long snake with the magnets and loved watching them attach to one another as it slithered. When Justin returned just moments later, Peyton was crying, saying there was something stuck in his throat.
“I looked in the back of his throat and saw two magnets stuck together, one on each side of his uvula,” MacNair, a science teacher told TODAY. She looked around and noticed that most of the magnets had gone missing. Having seen a similar scenario on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” MacNair immediately knew they had to act fast.
“He already had the two in his throat and there is a good chance he swallowed more than one and I knew that it was trouble,” she said. “They could tear through tissue and the body.”
As soon as they arrived at the local hospital, doctors took an X-ray and confirmed that 25 magnets were in his stomach in addition to the two clamped to his uvula.
Neodymium magnets—the kind that Peyton swallowed—are the strongest, most powerful magnets on earth. Outside of the body, they can leap and jump together from inches apart, often pinching the skin and causing other painful injuries.
Inside of the body, the magnets remain attracted to one another and pose major threats to internal organs, as their force is strong enough to pull through tissue and attach to one another. And their size is irrelevant—their power remains the same despite how small they are. If they attract toward each other in the stomach or the intestine they can create a gap.
Ultimately, doctors were able to get the 25 magnets from his duodenum, the top part of the small intestine, with a basket on the end of the scope which was inserted down his throat.
Aside from a sore throat the next day from the scope and being intubated, Peyton felt great.
“He was fine after that,” MacNair said, noting that they no longer have magnets or any small toys like marbles anywhere in their house. “Most people don’t realize the dangers of swallowing magnets,” MacNair said. “It can happen to anyone and it can happen in a split second.”