Buckyballs are not -- repeat, not -- a toy: Child swallows 37

Buckyballs sure do go down easy. That’s what the parents of a Portland, Ore., 3-year-old discovered after 37 of the magnets -- which the company itself calls “high-powered” -- were removed from the child’s intestines.

Despite what you may have thought when holiday shopping for your children -- despite the bright colors and packaging of the magnets -- Buckyballs “are not toys and are not intended for children.”

That’s the statement, in part, that the company has posted on its website in the aftermath of the incident in Oregon.


According to KPTV in Oregon, doctors at first thought the girl had swallowed a bracelet. A nurse at Randall Children’s Hospital told the news site that within the intestine the magnets had snapped together. They tore holes in the girl’s lower intestine and one in her stomach.

The girl, Payton Bushnell, is expected to recover. But this isn’t an isolated incident.

Last year, the La Jolla Patch website in La Jolla, Calif., told of a local sixth-grader having swallowed eight magnets, requiring surgery. Reporter Sarah Grieco says children have swallowed the magnets “when they have put two balls in their mouth to represent a tongue piercing.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 22 incidents involving magnets and children from June 2009 to October 2011, with 11 of those requiring surgery to remove the magnets.

The agency, which has a video warning of the dangers, says the slick little magnets are “desk toys and stress relievers for adults. ... They are not intended to be used to mimic teenage body piercings.”


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