A toddler is recovering after undergoing surgery to remove 37 Buckyball
earth magnets that she had swallowed. The small pieces came together inside
her stomach to form the shape of a large circle.
Payton Bushnell was rushed to the hospital after she fell ill. Her family thought she was suffering form the stomach flu. Instead, what happened was that the magnetic balls pulled the little girl’s intestines together and tore holes in her stomach and intestine. Following the incident, Buckyballs, put out a notice reminding parents that its products are for adult use only.
While Bushnell is fortunate in that she is expected to recover, the Portland, Oregon child injury accidenthighlights the dangers involved with small magnets and the risk they pose to young children, who are prone to putting small objects in the mouth. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that a child that swallows at least two magnets is at risk of fatal injury. Even when inside the body, magnets continue to be drawn toward each other. They can create holes in the stomach, block or twist up the intestines, or cause sepsis and/or death. Sometimes, surgeons may be forced to remove parts of the intestines in order to get all the magnets out and repair the damage.
A parent may not even realize that a child has swallowed a small magnet–especially if the boy or girl is too young to speak or explain what happened. Nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting are some of the symptoms indicating that your child may have swallowed a magnet. (Even older kids have been known to accidentally ingest magnets. They might try to use the magnet as a pretend nose ring or tongue ring. They, too, place themselves at risk of similar injuries as their younger counterparts.)
Product manufacturers whose products include small magnets are supposed to make sure that they include a warning of potential injuries. If the product is for kids, then they need to make sure the magnetic parts are not small enough to swallow or cannot be easily removed.
If it becomes apparent that a product becomes an injury hazard even when designed and used as intended, then this could mean that the product is a dangerous one and unsafe for use. Our Portland, Oregon products liability lawyers represent families whose children were injured or died because of product defects. The Gilbert Law Group also has child injury lawyers who represent clients throughout the US.
It is not that difficult for a child to get a hold of the magnets, especially if one were to separate from the rest of the product and land on the ground where it would within easy reach. A parent may not even know that the part has gone missing. Last November, the CPSC reported that the danger posed by small magnets continues to be a growing problem.
Portland, Ore., 3-Year-old Ingests 37 Magnets, ABC News, March , 2012
High-Powered Magnets + Swallowing by Kids = Deadly, CPSC, November 10, 2011