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Local doctor sounds warning on buckyball ingestions

Posted at 4:45 PM, Dec 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-28 20:40:22-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A local doctor is sounding the alarm after seeing multiple children in the hospital for the same thing, swallowing magnetic beads and potentially causing severe injuries.

It may look like a string of pearls on this x-ray, but they’re actually magnetic beads, better known as “buckyballs.” For pediatric surgeon, Dr. Kelly Kogut, it’s something that makes her pause.

“It gets you out of bed, brings you into the hospital and makes you call the operating room, come we’re going,” she said.

She’s operated on three local kids from infants to toddlers, who swallowed the magnets, including one child who required emergency surgery and was hospitalized for a week. Dr. Kogut says kids swallowing multiple beads could end up causing severe damage to their intestines.

“They’re so darn strong, they attract each other, and they pinch off the intestine in between which then causes a hole in the intestine,” she said.

Nationwide, the National Poison Data System has recorded a spike in magnet ingestion with nearly 1600 cases this year alone. This comes after the sale of buckyballs resumed after being banned for four years due to swallowing concerns. Parents say they’re being more vigilant.

“Sometimes you have to think like a kid, like if your think that’s going to be something that’s going to attract their attention, maybe keep it a little higher out of reach, or don’t purchase it if you think it might be an issue,” Stephanie Dubner, mother who lives in Las Vegas, said.

Dr. Kogut says, buckyballs are not meant for children, and wants parents to be mindful while purchasing them.

“If you’re an adult and you have them, keep them somewhere safe,” she said.