Schoolboy left with holes in his bowel after swallowing magnetic toys

Schoolboy, seven, is left with holes in his bowel and has emergency surgery to remove six magnetic toys from his stomach after accidentally swallowing them

  • Mickey Hambly was rushed to A&E by his parents with severe abdominal pain
  • Medics at Margate’s QEQM hospital discovered the toys in an X-ray scan
  • The magnetic beads, made popular online, were a gift for the boy’s birthday 

A schoolboy had to have emergency surgery to remove six magnetic toys from his stomach after he accidentally swallowed them.

Mickey Hambly, from Margate in Kent, was rushed to A&E by his parents in the early hours of the morning when he began suffering agonising abdominal pain.

The seven-year-old was found to have three holes in his bowel, caused by the powerful magnetic objects that have been made popular online.

An X-ray clearly showed that lodge in his stomach were six tiny balls that his mother Elaine Hambly had bought him for his birthday. 

The round, coloured magnets are hugely popular toys used as building blocks, with viral YouTube videos that have racked up tens of millions of views show them being shaped into impressive structures, such as buildings and animals.

The little boy’s mum described the time Mickey (pictured) spent in the hospital as ‘the hardest thing’ her family had been through. Elaine Hambly (pictured below) is now waging a campaign against the magnetic beads, warning parents of the harm they can do when misused

An X-ray scan (pictured), carried out at Margate’s QEQM hospital, revealed the cause of Mickey’s agonising stomach pain: he had six powerful magnets lodged inside him

Mickey with his mum, 29-year-old Elaine Hambly, who is urging parents NOT to buy the powerful magnets she gifted her son on his birthday, after he swallowed them and was hospitalised

The youngster was operated on at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, resulting in a surgery scar (pictured)

The magnetic balls (pictured) ‘look just like the little sweets you can put on birthday cakes – they’re hard and colourful’, says 29-year-old Elaine Hambly (pictured above), Mickey’s mother

Revealed: The dangers of swallowing magnets – and why the NHS wants them banned 

A potentially life threatening social media trend, involving tiny magnets that can be easily swallowed, triggered the NHS to call for a ban in May.

These tiny magnetic balls are widely sold as creative toys, with a recent TikTok craze seeing them used as fake facial piercings by teenagers.

The viral prank sees people place two magnetic balls either side of their tongue and wiggle it around, creating the illusion that their piercing is real.

NHS bosses issued a patient safety alert after at least 65 children were admitted to hospital for urgent surgery in the last three years after swallowing magnets.

The magnetic objects are forced together in the intestines or bowels, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is cut off.

Ingesting more than one can be life-threatening and cause significant damage within hours.

England’s top children’s doctor, Professor Simon Kenny, wants the magnets banned altogether to prevent further incidents.

They are much more complex than button batteries to extract.

The child will need emergency surgery, then, depending on the severity of the injuries, they may need numerous operations, bowel resection and time in paediatric intensive care.


But now the 29-year-old is warning other parents of the dangers of the toys due to the strength of the magnets and the damage they can cause.

The mother-of-four from Margate, Kent, said: ‘I can’t stress enough to parents – please do not buy these. As fun as they look, they are really dangerous and can be life-threatening.

‘Unfortunately kids are putting them in their mouth or pretending to make piercings. They look just like the little sweets you can put on birthday cakes – they’re hard and colourful.

‘The hospital said that wasn’t their first case of it – they’ve seen a few. They are so strong and have been causing kids serious damage.

‘I just want other parents to know what can happen. It was a horrible experience for our whole family.’

Since his operation, Mickey told his mum he had accidentally swallowed the magnets while rolling them in the space where he had lost a tooth, because it ‘felt nice on his gum’.

It was after viewing the YouTubes videos that Ms Hambly bought the toys for her son.

She supervised her children while they used them, but decided to get rid of them when they began sticking to metal items in her home, but unbeknownst to her, Mickey got hold of the toys and swallowed six of them.

After X-rays revealed the reason for his pain, the youngster was rushed by ambulance from Margate’s QEQM hospital to Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove the magnets.

Along with his mum, Mickey had to stay in hospital for a week after the three-hour operation, but he is now back at home and recovering well.

Ms Hambly added: ‘I couldn’t believe it. They attracted to each other inside him and formed three holes in his bowel.

‘He has now got a scar and cannot ride a bike, scooter, go swimming, play football, or even play outside for at least two months – and can have complications with his bowel in the future.

Mickey Hambly (pictured), seven, was left with three holes in his bowel after swallowing six strong magnetic balls, made popular by viral videos online that show their use in the construction of impressive structures

The schoolboy was rushed to A&E by his parents in the early hours of the morning, where healthcare workers X-rayed the boy and discovered six magnetic balls lodged inside his digestive system – toys his mother had bought him for his birthday

Medics at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, where was underwent an emergency surgery, said Mickey Hambly (pictured) was not the first patient they had seen who had swallowed the trendy coloured magnets

‘We have to go for constant check ups at the Evelina Hospital. And if he gets ill or sick or has a high temperature we have to take him to A&E.

‘It was a horrible time for us all. As his dad and siblings were at him not knowing what was going on and couldn’t see us.

‘It was the hardest thing we have had to go through as a family. We want to get awareness out for other families so they can be aware of the effects the magnetic beads can cause if swallowed.’

Mickey is back at school, but to his dismay is not allowed to play outside with his friends at break or lunchtimes while he recovers.

Ms Hambly is now keen to raise awareness of the dangers the toys can pose if ingested.

Since posting about what happened to Mickey on Facebook, several other parents have contacted her reporting similar incidents, she said.

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