Boy, 11, recovers after swallowing magnetic ball that could have done major damage

An 11-year-old boy is using his scary experience with an educational magnetic ball to teach others a lesson.

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Connor Parker was playing with Buckyballs, which are educational magnetic balls made of a rare metal that is stronger than most magnets, when it happened.

"He was looking at it and his mouth was slightly open and it just popped off," his mother, Allison Parker, said.

The ball popped off and went right down his throat since he didn't have braces or any other metal in his mouth.

It could have been worse if he had inhaled the ball into his lung or gotten two in his body, in which case, the two could have torn through his insides to find each other.

"They can potentially attract to each other or cross the bowel wall or the other tissues in the body, and cause tissue necrosis or breakdown, as they're trying to get to one another," said Dr. Sara Steelman, emergency department medical director at Novant Health Presbyterian Children’s Hospital.

Parker said she worried something like that might happen to her 6-year-old, but not to Connor, who is older.

"I was not calm at all. Yeah, I was scared," Connor said.

At the emergency room at Levine Children's Hospital, the ball showed up in an X-ray.

"It's scary," Allison Parker said.

In 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said 2,900 children had gone to a hospital because of magnetic balls and many needed surgery. The agency recalled the balls. Now Buckyballs are back on the market but with strong warnings.

The warnings say, "Keep away from all children!" and "Unlimited fun! (for grown-ups)" and "Swallowed magnets can stick to intestines causing serious injury or death."

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