Growing cases of kids swallowing potentially fatal magnets

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 10:45 AM

Melanie Hebert / Eyewitness News
Email: mhebert@wwltv.com | Twitter: @melaniehebert

NEW ORLEANS -- Braylon Jordan is recovering from a near-fatal experience after swallowing several pea-sized magnets.

“It's been really, really difficult. You have a perfect, healthy little boy one day, and then the next day he's fighting for his life,” said his mother Meaghin Jordan.

Almost 2 years old, much of his intestine is gone, and he's had seven surgeries in three weeks. Braylon left the intensive care unit just this weekend and is now learning to sit up again, walk, and be fed through his vein.

But he still has a long road ahead, including an intestinal transplant.

“Now that he's better and we're not facing a life or death situation, we're having to think about his future and his transplant and what that's going to do to him, and how he's going to live his life,” said Jordan.

Dr. R. Adam Noel at LSUHC Pediatrics stressed, “Intestinal transplants require more immune suppression than almost any other type of transplant. That puts them at high risk for infections and high risk for losing the organ.”

Noel says there have been at least 80 national cases of children swallowing these magnets over the past two years. Three cases have occurred at Children's Hospital since February. The magnets are sold as desk toys and stress relievers for adults.

But Noel stresses they’re very dangerous because, if swallowed, they put pressure on fragile intestinal tissue and can create holes in the intestine.

“One patient we had in February, they had 39 balls in their stomach stuck together, and we had to try to separate these things,” Noel recalled.

The most recent case at Children's Hospital was 9-year-old Brianna Becnel.

“I was sucking on them and it just went down my throat, and I got scared,” Becnel said.

“She was at school and she swallowed two magnets. The children were putting these in their mouth using them as jewelry, tongue rings, lip rings whatever,” said Brianna’s mother Mary Firmin.

Doctors say Brianna had the magnets removed within 24 hours and appears to be fine, but Firmin expresses frustration with the school, saying Harahan Elementary still hasn't warned students of the danger of these magnets.

“One of the teachers there is still mocking my daughter and saying ‘oh you're not gonna put anything else in your mouth are you?’ Just not taking it seriously, and it's very upsetting," Firmin said.

We've called Harahan Elementary but the school hasn't responded.

 

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