A young Melbourne boy is lucky to be alive after swallowing 30 fridge magnets.
Doctors are now warning parents of the dangers of leaving them within the reach of children after seeing a rise in admissions to hospital.
Five-year-old Noah Lefau’s inquisitive nature got him into trouble and resulted in him coming frighteningly close to death.
“Mum rang at lunchtime saying, ‘He’s on the ground, curled up in pain’,” mother Christelle Lefau, who lives in Pakenham – southeast of Melbourne, said.
An X-ray quickly revealed what was wrong.
“I thought maybe it’s the little silver balls you use in cake decorating,” Ms Lefau said.
“They said, ‘No, it’s metal’.”
Noah had dragged a chair over to the fridge where magnets had been placed up high and swallowed 30 of them.
“I must confess, I’ve never seen a kid swallow 30 magnets,” Dr Maurizio Pacilli, from Monash Children’s Hospital, said.
“They travel along the intestine and they are attracted to each other, trying to get together and by doing this, they create little holes inside the gut.”
It took medical staff six hours to remove the magnets.
“We had found 10 or 12 holes which we had to stitch one at a time, and we had to remove some parts of the intestine,” Dr Pacilli said.
“You don’t think something so small would do that much damage,” dad Fiso Lefau said.
“If it was less than half a day longer, he would have died,” an emotional Christelle added.
While many parents are aware of the dangers of buttons and batteries, experts warn magnets can be just as deadly.
“A few simple tips for parents – have a look when buying toys, make sure any magnets are secure and if they do come loose, dispose of that toy immediately,” Kidsafe Victoria’s Jason Chambers said.
“Also look for age recommendations in toys.”
Remarkably, Noah appears to have fully recovered and he now knows the only thing he should be putting in his mouth is food.