Girl Hospitalized After Swallowing Popular Holiday Gift

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An 11-year-old girl from Illinois was hospitalized for days after accidentally swallowing Buckyballs, a popular magnetic toy.

Buckyballs are small, powerful magnets that usually come in packs of 100, notes WQAD. They can be molded into different shapes or designs and are used for education or to relieve stress.

When sixth-grader Halina Adams saw her friend brought a pack to her school in Evanston, she asked if she could play with them.

"She put them on her lips ... one on either side," said Halina’s father, Aaron Adams. The balls suddenly broke apart and went "back to her throat and she swallowed."

The two balls then got stuck in Halina's intestines. She was taken to a local hospital, where she had two colonoscopies. She remained under observation for five days until the balls finally passed naturally.

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"This a medical emergency," said Dr. Vincent Biank, who worked on Halina's case. He said that, if left untreated, the magnetic balls could connect two pieces of tissue together, causing severe medical problems.

"If you perforate the GI tract you can get very sick very fast," he added. "It would kind of be like a perforated appendix. You can get incredibly ill, almost life-threatening ill."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission initiated a recall of the powerful magnet toys in 2012, saying that the balls could cause serious damage if two or more are ingested, according to Popular Science. A number of children had ended up in the hospital after swallowing the toy, including a 3-year-old in Oregon, who swallowed 37 magnets, leaving her with holes in her gastrointestinal system.

But an administrative judge overturned the ban in 2016, saying that the toy's danger was overstated.

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"The Commission’s finding that 90 percent of the predicate injuries only 'possibly' involved magnet sets provides the Court with little guidance," read the court ruling, which added that the magnets have educational uses.

"Numerous comments received by the Commission indicated that teachers and researchers use magnet sets to model and explain physics, biology, and geometry concepts."

Even though the product is back on the market, Halina's family is now using their story as warning to other parents to not purchase the popular gift for their children. 

"Since this happened, I’ve heard from a number of friends and parents, ‘My kid has them had no idea ... I got my kid this for Christmas. And now we’re taking it out from under the tree,'" said Aaron, according to WQAD.

Sources: WQAD, Popular Science / Featured Image: Kurt and Becky/Flickr / Embedded Images: Nathan Taylor/Flickr, Jared Wong/Flickr

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