A 10-year-old schoolgirl discovered she had swallowed 15 toy magnets in her sleep after complaining about stomach pains.
Sadie Latham, from Kirkby, Merseyside, used to pretend the magnets were braces and put them on her teeth while she was in bed.
However, she forgot to take them out before falling asleep and many of them ended up slipping down her throat, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Her mum Catherine took her to A&E after she complained about tummy pains, with doctors discovering the tiny magnetic balls in her bowel after carrying out an X-ray.
She had to have her bowel stitched together and 7cm of it removed after the magnets fused together in her intestines causing her bowel to perforate.
Catherine said she was completely unaware that Sadie had swallowed the beads until three weeks after it happened, when she began complaining of pain.
Doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital initially suspected she had appendicitis but the results of an X-ray revealed Sadie had digested 15 of the tiny magnetic balls.
If it wasn’t for the operation, Catherine, 44, said Sadie “could have died.”
The mum bought the magnetic balls from a third party seller on Amazon earlier this year, which were marketed as “educational” toys that children can use to make patterns and shapes with.
However, she says, they have since become part of a trend which involves kids putting them inside their noses and mouths to mimic facial piercings.
She wants to warn other parents of the dangers after Sadie had a “extremely lucky” escape.
Catherine told the ECHO: “People are buying them not knowing that they can be potentially fatal.
“She had pain just to the right of her stomach, I thought she just had trapped wind or something. I ended up taking her to A&E at 1pm.”
Sadie underwent a series of tests at Alder Hey on Friday, October 2, with doctors initially suspecting she had appendicitis.
But the results of an X-ray the following day showed the magnetic balls in her bowel.
Catherine said: “One of the doctors wasn’t convinced it was appendicitis.
“They sent her for an X-ray and that’s when they saw them – fifteen magnetic balls on the x-ray.
“I was in disbelief.”
Catherine said doctors found that as the highly magnetic balls had travelled through different parts of the intestines they had fused together, causing Sadie’s bowel to perforate.
She said: “They cut 7cm of the bowel away and she had other bits stitched.
“It couldn’t have gone better. She was extremely lucky.
“They said when she came out of the operation to expect a stoma bag but she didn’t need to have that in the end.”
It wasn’t until after the operation that Catherine said they got to the bottom of how Sadie swallowed the magnets in the first place.
Catherine added: “What she’s been doing is she’s been in bed pretending to do braces on her teeth.
“They’re that strong that she’s put one behind and one on the front of her tooth and it sticks.
“She fell asleep and hadn’t realised she’d swallowed them.
“I said to her ‘what about in the morning when you woke up?’ But she’s got a hundred of them in a tin so she hasn’t realised.”
Sadie has been left with a three inch scar on her stomach from the operation but is recovering well at home.
Since the surgery Catherine said she has discovered that this is not the first time this has happened to a child.
She has warned other parents at Sadie’s school, St Michaels and All Angels, of the dangers of the magnets and has asked Amazon to remove them from the site.
Catherine said: “Kids have been putting them up their nose and on the side so it looks like a piercing.
“Or they’ve been putting one on their lip and one on the other side of their lip to look like a lip piercing.
“I was angry at her at first for doing something so silly but I’m just thankful that the operation went well.
“I think kids do silly things but no one knows of the dangers.
“I’ve seen her making patterns with them but I’ve never seen her do that.
“I could have lost her. She could have choked. She could have died.”
It is understood that Amazon is removing the items from sale.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon.
“We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.”