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Girl, six, needs emergency surgery to remove part of her bowel after she swallows toy magnetic balls

A six-year-old girl was forced to have emergency surgery to remove part of her bowel after she swallowed toy magnetic balls.  

Melody Bailey of Preston was rushed to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and had an operation to remove four kinetic balls she had swallowed which were burning through her bowel.

Her mother Jane Bailey, 30, said: ‘It was just awful seeing her in so much pain for so long because she’s quite a tough cookie and doesn’t cry much so when I saw her like that I thought it must be bad.

‘I’d read stories about this before and told them don’t put them in your mouth because they can burn through your organs and exactly that happened.’

The NHS has called for a ban on small magnetic toys after dozens of children swallowed them and needed life-saving surgery. 

Magnets have become a craze among children who use them as pretend piercings, but don’t think of the dangers. They put them in their noses, and even in their eyelids. Some put them inside their mouth and put the corresponding magnet outside it.

Ingesting more than one magnet can cause significant damage in hours if not removed. They fuse in the intestines or bowels, squeezing tissue and cutting off blood supply.

At least 65 children have been admitted to hospital for urgent surgery in England after swallowing magnets in the past three years.  

Melody with her mother Jane and sister Lucia

Melody Bailey of Preston (left, in hospital; right, with her mother Jane and sister Lucia) was rushed to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and had an operation to remove four kinetic balls she had swallowed which were burning through her bowel

Melody's scar after she underwent emergency surgery to have part of her bowel removed

Melody’s scar after she underwent emergency surgery to have part of her bowel removed

Magnets have become a craze among children who use them as pretend piercings

Magnets have become a craze among children who use them as pretend piercings

Swallowing magnets can cause serious internal damage 

Magnets have become a craze among kids who use them as pretend piercings, but don't think of the dangers

Magnets have become a craze among kids who use them as pretend piercings, but don’t think of the dangers 

Magnets have become a craze among kids who use them as pretend piercings, but don’t think of the dangers.

They put them in their noses, and even in their eyelids. Some put them inside their mouth and put the corresponding magnet outside it.

The magnets continue to work even inside the body, because the force that draws them together is not disrupted by the thin, porous tissue in the body.

Obviously, this can cause problems. Organ is soft and can be easily torn by the magnetic force of the bearings.

This sort of damage can quickly lead to internal bleeding and sepsis, and can easily be fatal if not treated quickly and the source of the damage removed.

Ms Bailey, a support worker for people with learning difficulties, shared video of Melody crying in pain before her surgery on July 15, to raise awareness of the dangers of toy magnets.

She said that Melody and her older sister Lucia were caught up in the social media trend to put the magnetic in their mouths – and ultimately led to her youngest daughter to swallow four.

‘The surgeon said you’d be surprised how often this happens – there was a little boy upstairs recovering from the same surgery,’ the mother-of-two said.

‘She said this happens at least once or twice a day and I just thought, how are they still selling them! They did have some of the magnetic balls at my house but since then obviously I’ve thrown them all away.’

She added: ‘I would advise parents not to buy them – they may seem like a fun little gadget but it’s not worth the risks because it was a terrifying experience.

‘It’s fair enough if they want to produce these things but advertising them as a toy for children, I think that’s disgusting because they’re far from it. I absolutely think they should be banned as a toy.’ 

Ms Bailey said: ‘She had a tummy ache so I gave her some Calpol.

‘The next two mornings she was adamant she still wanted to go to school but on the second day they rang me to say ”you’re going to have to pick her up because she’s been sick”.

‘I just put it down to a stomach bug but she kept being sick and the pain got progressively worse until she was in agony. 

‘It went on for quite a few days so I started thinking surely it’s not just a sickness bug because usually that’s just 24 hours. I asked her if she’d put anything in her mouth and finally she said she had eaten four magnetic balls. 

‘I was panicking. I’d read things before about how it can burn through organs because they’re attracted to each other so I was just thinking about the worst case scenario.

‘It was a mad rush from then – she was sick in my car on the way to A&E and when we got to hospital she was screaming in agony, it was horrible.

‘At first they were talking about keeping her in and seeing if they were passing through her or not but then the next minute they said she’s going to have to have emergency surgery.’ 

She added: ‘Doctors said Melody was lucky really because sometimes they can end up with stomas or having to have all their bowels removed or it can even be life-threatening.

Melody in hospital

Melody in hospital

Doctors previously warned parents against the potentially fatal effects of the small magnetic balls, which left at least four children in Stockport needing surgery at the beginning of last year. Pictured, Melody in hospital

Ms Bailey, a support worker for people with learning difficulties, shared video of Melody crying in pain before her surgery on July 15, to raise awareness of the dangers of toy magnets

Ms Bailey, a support worker for people with learning difficulties, shared video of Melody crying in pain before her surgery on July 15, to raise awareness of the dangers of toy magnets

‘It was a huge relief to know that they were out and she was going to be alright.’ 

The NHS has issued a national patient safety alert advising every hospital and GP that these cases should be treated as an emergency. 

Professor Simon Kenny, NHS England national clinical director for children and young people, said: ‘Magnets are a source of fascination for children, and magnetic toys can look like a cheap and cheerful way of occupying the kids, but ultimately they aren’t safe and shouldn’t be for sale.’ 

Doctors previously warned parents against the potentially fatal effects of the small magnetic balls, which left at least four children in Stockport needing surgery at the beginning of last year. 

In 2019, a six-year-old girl suffered a perforated bowel after she accidentally swallowed a magnetic ball bearing.

Libbie Walker needed major surgery and was left with a seven-inch scar, which runs from her belly button to her hip.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk