As Bree Davis watched her three young boys play with a new toy, she was thrilled they were laughing together.
The tiny multi-colored magnetic beads – about the size of cake-decorating cashous – would keep the boys entertained for hours.
But three weeks after he first started playing with the little balls, two-year-old Franklin stopped eating and drinking, and began vomiting every 30 minutes.
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In hospital emergency, Surgeons made a staggering Discovery – 22 of the beads were wedged inside the toddler’s small intestine and bowel.
As the tiny spheres had made their way through the boy’s body, the magnetic force had pulled them together through the walls of his organs – effectively ‘corroding’ holes in his digestive system.
“Everyone just assumed it was gastro,” the Sydney mum tells 7Life of the frightening diagnosis.
“We didn’t know he had swallowed them.
“The surgeon just looked at me and said, ‘These shouldn’t be toys.’
“He had another surgery later that day to remove five of these magnetic balls from a 10-year-old boy.”
The mum noticed her sons had picked up a toy they found when the family was at a Northern Beaches park.
At home, the boys raced to a small play table and threw the rainbow balls on top and began playing with them.
“I went over to see what they were and they looked fine,” Bree says.
For weeks, Hendrix, Harrison and Franklin would spend hours almost every day playing with the beads.
They would make shapes and buildings, and run around the house finding objects the magnetic balls would stick to.
But two weeks after the trio brought the beads home, Bree’s youngest son Franklin began feeling unwell.
On Monday March 21, the toddler woke Bree and her husband Scott at 2am, complaining of a sore stomach.
His condition deteriorated quickly and he began vomiting every 15 to 30 minutes.
“It was just liquid, no food or anything,” Bree says.
“Gastro was going around so I thought that must be it.”
The mum stayed up all night with her boy and in the morning made the first appointment to see the doctor.
The GP confirmed Bree’s initial thoughts – gastro.
More than ‘just gastro’
But Franklin’s condition did not improve for three days, and he was in and out of the hospital as Doctors continued to investigate the cause of his pain.
Ultrasounds and scans kept coming back clear, leaving medical staff and Bree scratching their heads for an answer.
After each ER visit, the family would leave with the same recommendation – administer painkillers and monitor for any changes.
But on Thursday, Franklin fortuitously fell and split his lip open, prompting Bree to take him to the ER for the fourth time that week.
There, the little boy began complaining again that his stomach was hurting – and this time Doctors performed keyhole surgery to inspect the abdominal area.
They focused on his appendix, concerned about a possible rupture.
The surgery was Supposed to last only an hour.
But three long hours after Bree began pacing the hospital floors, the surgeon walked out holding a small, clear container.
In it were 22 magnetic balls that had been inside the two-year-old boy’s body.
Some had traveled into Franklin’s small intestine, others were sitting in his bowel and the rest were scattered in a snake-like formation around his digestive track.
The magnetic force was so powerful it had pulled the balls towards each other inside the boy’s body.
For up to three weeks, the beads inside his small intestine and bowel had burrowed deep into his organs, trying to reach each other.
In the end, the magnetic force corroded two holes in order for the balls to be reunited.
The surgeon was gobsmacked the balls were marketed as toys.
It wasn’t the first time they had to remove such an item from inside a child, noting he had another operation in a few hours to remove the same toy from an older boy.
Bree couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Watching her boys play with the balls, she never saw them put the objects near their mouths.
“I know about button batteries and the danger of small things like that,” she says.
“But not these magnetic balls.
“It makes you wonder about everything else that has magnets in them.”
It’s now been a few weeks since the successful surgery and Franklin has made a complete recovery.
Bree is now raising awareness of the Hidden dangers of magnetic toys and hopes her son’s frightening story can help save lives.
As for little Frankie, he is now back at home and scoffing down his favorite foods.
And staying far away from Magnets.