AN AUSTRALIAN toddler is lucky to be alive after swallowing 32 ball bearing-style magnets inside a toy during lockdown.
Imogen Ferguson, 18 months old, had to have emergency surgery to remove the deadly objects from her tummy and bowel, says a Melbourne surgeon.
The surgeon added: “These magnets can be extremely dangerous, and erode through intestinal tissue as they try and connect to each other.
“They cause multiple holes in the bowel and are potentially life-threatening.”
The girl’s mum, Teigan Brown, told Channel 7 News: “I cried and cried, and I felt pretty guilty.”
Imogen has been in isolation during the coronavirus crisis with her sister Heidi, four, who also ingested two magnets.
Teigan said the girls had been left alone for just a “few seconds” when they found a toy.
Ten Daily says the mum told reporters: “I didn’t realise the girls had the toy until [Heidi] came in and said the little one had put one in her mouth and swallowed it.
“I thought, okay, it was just one… so I kept a close eye on her.”
But, the next day, little Imogen’s temperature had spiked, and she was in pain.
She was taken to Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, where a radiologist “did an X-ray and there were 32 in her tummy and her bowel.”
Imogen had to be immediately operated on to remove the potentially lethal items.
She’s expected to make a full recovery.
Her mum added: “It could have been a lot worse. We got out of it pretty lucky.”
Head of children’s surgery, Chris Kimber, warned parents of such risks to children during lockdown.
Sharing Imogen’s X-ray on the hospital’s Facebook page, the medic explained it showed “32 small ball-bearing style magnets ingested by a toddler who is currently recovering at Monash.
“Emergency life-saving surgery was required to remove these dangerous magnets, and thankfully the little one is now recovering well.
“A lot of toys include small magnets.
“They’re also sold for adults as something to fidget with in the home office.”
Kimber, an associate professor surgeon, has urged parents to be more vigilant about their youngsters during isolation.
“With more children staying home, and more time to explore the house, there is an increased risk of these small magnets being ingested by young children.
“We need parents to be more vigilant than ever and prevent preschool children from having access to these harmful toys,” the surgeon warned.
On Facebook, the little girl’s grateful grandma praised the hospital for its prompt action.
Wendy Brown posted: “We can’t thank the wonderful Drs, nurses and staff enough who have treated and saved our granddaughter.
“You are truly amazing.”
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Paige Hortin said: “What a scary situation. Thoughts to the family and well wishes for a speedy recovery.”
One concerned person suggested that authorities in Victoria should “go further than urging parents to be vigilant”.
She said that such toys should be better regulated, as, “there have been two serious incidents in two months at Monash.
“It should not take a fatality to prompt further action. This is equal in gravity to button battery ingestion.”