Girl, 10, has surgery to remove 'magnetic balls' from her intestines

Girl, 10, needed life-saving surgery to remove 15 trendy ‘magnetic balls’ that fused together in her intestine – after falling asleep with them in her mouth

  • Sadie Latham was rushed to A&E at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool
  • X-ray revealed she had digested more than a dozen tiny magnetic balls 
  • Doctors were forced to remove seven centimetres of her intestines 

A 10-year-old girl has undergone life-saving surgery to extract 15 ‘magnetic balls’ that fused together in her intestine after falling asleep with them in her mouth. 

Sadie Latham was rushed to A&E at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, where doctors initially suspected she had appendicitis.

But the results of an X-ray revealed she had digested more than a dozen tiny magnetic balls that had perforated her bowel.

Doctors were forced to remove seven centimetres of her intestines which has left a three-inch scar across her stomach.

Her mother, Catherine, has since said Sadie had put the magnetic balls in her mouth as she ‘pretended to have braces’ before falling asleep. 

Sadie Latham (pictured) was rushed to A&E at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, where doctors initially suspected she had appendicitis

Catherine said that she was completely unaware her daughter had swallowed the beads until three weeks later when she began complaining of abdominal pain. 

The 44-year-old, from Kirkby, said: ‘She had pain just to the right of her stomach, I thought she just had trapped wind or something.’

‘I ended up taking her to A&E at 1pm… They sent her for an X-ray and that’s when they saw them – fifteen magnetic balls.

‘I was in disbelief.’ 

The magnetic balls had travelled through different parts of Sadie’s intestines before fusing together and causing her bowel to perforate.

Catherine bought the magnetic balls (pictured) from a third party seller on Amazon earlier this year which were marketed as ‘educational’ toys that children can use to make patterns and shapes

Doctors were forced to remove seven centimetres of Sadie’s intestines with her mother, Catherine, saying that without the operation her daughter (pictured in hospital) ‘could have died’

Catherine said: ‘They cut seven centimetres of the bowel away and she had other bits stitched.

‘It couldn’t have gone better. She was extremely lucky.

‘They said when she came out of the operation to expect a stoma bag but she didn’t need to have that in the end.’

Speaking of how her daughter swallowed the balls in the first place, Catherine said: ‘What she’s been doing is she’s been in bed pretending to do braces on her teeth.

‘They’re that strong that she’s put one behind and one on the front of her tooth and it sticks. She fell asleep and hadn’t realised she’d swallowed them.

‘I said to her “what about in the morning when you woke up?” 

‘But she’s got a hundred of them in a tin so she hasn’t realised.’

Sadie has been left with a three-inch scar on her stomach (pictured) from the operation but is recovering well at home

Sadie has been left with a three-inch scar on her stomach from the operation but is recovering well at home.

Catherine bought the magnetic balls from a third party seller on Amazon earlier this year. 

They were marketed as ‘educational’ toys that children can use to make patterns and shapes.

But she warned that they have since become part of a trend which sees children putting them inside their noses and mouths to mimic facial piercings.  

She has warned other parents at Sadie’s school, St Michaels and All Angels, of the dangers of the magnets and has asked Amazon to remove them from the site.

Catherine added: ‘People are buying them not knowing that they can be potentially fatal… I could have lost her. She could have choked. She could have died.’ 

It is understood that Amazon is removing the items from sale.

An Amazon spokesperson said: ‘Safety is a top priority at Amazon.

‘We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.’ 

Doctor warns of the potentially fatal effects of the magnetic ball craze which has left at least four other children needing surgery

Earlier this year, one doctor from Stockport issued an open letter to parents warning of the potentially fatal effects of the magnetic ball craze which has left at least four other children needing surgery – including a six-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy. 

The letter read: ‘I would like to highlight the dangers of these highly magnetic balls.

‘These very small (usually 3 to 5mm) balls are widely available to buy in the UK and are sold as a “creative toy.”

‘I cannot emphasise how dangerous these can be if swallowed. These balls have already been banned in other countries because of their risk to children. 

‘You may wonder why a child would swallow these or you may think “my child wouldn’t swallow them”, but I plead with you to not take the risk.

Earlier this year, one doctor from Stockport issued an open letter to parents warning of the potentially fatal effects of the magnetic ball craze (stock image) 

‘Apparently, some children have been creating a larger ball using numerous balls and putting them in their mouth, then placing other balls on the outside of their face.

‘They then use their tongue to move the larger ball in their mouth to make the balls on their face move, which understandably kids find amusing.

‘However, some of the individual balls in their mouth can come away and be accidentally swallowed.

‘The balls are highly magnetic and can cause severe damage to the digestive tract.

‘As the balls move through the bowel, they can magnetise together even when in different parts of the bowel.

‘The pressure applied to the bowel tissue lying between the two magnets is so strong that it causes a perforation in the bowel.’ 

The doctor added: ‘This is extremely serious and can be fatal if not identified and promptly fixed by abdominal surgery.

‘There has been a case locally in which a young child needed abdominal surgery and within Stockport, I am aware of at least another three cases.

‘Please do not buy these for your children and if you already have them consider removing them.’ 

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