Two-year-old Ava Kendall was able to reach some small magnetic balls in her Houston home. The magnets looked like cookie sprinkles, so Ava swallowed nine of them. The magnets were a gift her father received when he was an exchange student in Sweden before Ava was born, and the magnets were designed to be used to fashion shapes.
It was two weeks ago that Ava found and swallowed the magnets, but her parents did not know the event had occurred until Ava began screaming and holding her stomach. Her mom then knew something was terribly wrong, and when health professionals at a clinic said Ava had a serious stomach flu, her mom, Lexi Kendall, did not agree with the diagnosis, reports Deborah Wrigley of WLS-TV Chicago.
She took her toddler to the Texas Children’s Hospital, and a scan revealed the magnets in Ava’s intestines. Even through a person’s skin, magnets find each other, and that joining together was causing the pellets to burrow holes into Ava’s intestines.
Surgery repaired the holes and isolated the infection, but Ava is still in intensive care. The Kendalls did not know about how problematic ingesting magnets could be, but they now know that magnets were banned in the last few years by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for this very reason.
KHOU-TV’s Jacqueline Crea reports that Ava took a breath on her own Monday after 13 days of not being able to do so. Mom said at one point doctors told her Ava might not make it past 24 hours.
“I mean, it only takes a few seconds. I could’ve been in the back changing a diaper,” Kendall said. “We didn’t know how dangerous they were.”
“Make sure all of that stuff is out of the way, because I don’t want any parent or any other kid to go through what we have gone through, because it’s awful,” she said.
Doctors now say Ava is expected to make a full recovery, but they have not yet decided when Ava will be released from the hospital.
Because Ava was not a child who normally put objects in her mouth, her having swallowed something was not the first thing that came to mind when the two-year-old began to cramp from pain, writes Haley Hernandez of Graham Media Group.
Before the CT scan, the doctors performed a flu test, a strep test, and a chest x-ray. The scan finally found the objects, but the physicians did not recognize what the small balls were. Lexi Kendall saw them and knew immediately what the nine small spheres were. The doctors wheeled Ava into four hours of surgery.
Dr. Mark Gilger, a Gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, discusses on the hospital’s website the dangers of object ingestion by children. He urges parents to keep all small objects out of their toddlers’ reach. He also urges parents to educate older children on the dangers of swallowing magnets and, as exemplified by the Kendalls, to get help as quickly as possible if you think your child has ingested any small object, but especially magnets.
Any stomach pain, unexplained vomiting, refusal of food, extreme drooling, cough, fever, or lethargy are signs that a child should be taken to the emergency room, writes Dr. Ellen Friedman, Chief of Otolaryngology. Many childhood illnesses have similar symptoms, but since early intervention is imperative in many cases, it is a good idea to get to the emergency room as soon as possible.