7-year-old boy rushed to ER after eating tiny magnets

Multnomah County

Tiny magnets can link together in intestines, tearing tissue and blocking blood flow

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 7-year-old boy was thrown into a life-threatening situation after he swallowed several tiny magnets, leading to major internal issues.

Krystal Mundy said the magnets were given to her as a gift a couple of years ago. The package contained hundreds of magnets — all about the size of the head of a ballpoint pen — and could be formed into shapes and sculptures.

One of the magnets that Jason swallowed, July 10, 2019. (KOIN)

Mundy didn’t think they would pose a risk to her son, Jason since he’s 7 years old.

But while a friend was over on July 2, Jason decided to swallow some of the magnets.

He was rushed to the emergency room where X-rays showed 5 tiny, round magnets in his intestines. He underwent emergency laparoscopic surgery to have them removed and was recovering more than a week later at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at OHSU.

“Not until we took him in did we realize the severity of the situation he was in,” said Mundy.

Jason Munday and his mom, Krystal Munday, at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, July 10, 2019. (KOIN)

Magnets pose a big threat if ingested. Dr. Ben Hoffman, a pediatrician at Doernbecher, said the objects act differently than a typical fridge magnet.

“They are so powerful, they stick together,” said Hoffman. “So if that happens between 2 different parts of the intestine, they pinch the intestine between them.”

Doctors said the small magnets don’t just pass harmlessly out of the system. Instead, they link up inside the intestines — blocking blood flow and tearing up tissue, potentially causing ruptures.

Hoffman said the magnets like the ones Jason swallowed were banned by the Consumer Products Safety Commission in 2014 but a manufacturer lawsuit rescinded the ban in 2016.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is working to get another ban in place.

Hoffman said around 3,000 cases were reported from 2009 to 2013 and they’ve seen 3 in the last month alone.

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