As a parent, there’s only so much you can do to protect your child from the dangerous and often idiotic trends that sweep through social media. You can teach your kids to be careful, be aware of the latest stunts and make sure your kids don’t have the materials needed to participate in those stunts, but where there’s a will (and peer pressure) there’s a way.
Ellis Tripp from Worcester, England, doesn’t have a TikTok account, which is probably best for an 11-year-old — and after this stunt, he probably won’t be getting it for a long time.
He recently began to complain of stomach pain, and after a week with the pain only worsening, his mother, 31-year-old Amy Clarke, took him to the doctor, according to the Daily Mail.
Given the symptoms and the information they had to go off of, doctors suspected appendicitis. So he was taken to surgery only for the surgeons to discover two very odd things.
One, his appendix looked fine.
Two, the surgeon’s metal tools were attaching themselves to the boy’s stomach.
Eventually, it came out that Ellis had swallowed five “Magneto Beads,” very strong magnets that were currently wreaking havoc on his digestive system.
Surgeons told the family that Ellis was the fifth case in a week that they’d seen for the same complaint, and his family began to connect the dots.
Clarke said they didn’t own any of the powerful toy magnets, but a search at Ellis’ school showed that other students did.
“We don’t know where he got them from,” Sue Davies, Ellis’ grandmother, said, according to the Daily Mail. “His headteacher did a search and they found a lot of kids with them at school.”
One of the popular trends on TikTok at the moment is for kids to use two of the Magneto beads on their tongues (one on the top, one on the bottom) to mimic the look of a tongue piercing. While Clarke can’t prove that her son was participating in this challenge, all signs point to it.
As a result, Ellis has had two emergency surgeries: One to remove three magnets from his stomach, and another to remove two more from his intestines, as well as a 5-inch section of damaged intestine.
Davies said the boy was critically ill and fighting an infection due to bowel leakage.
“It has been a truly horrific experience,” Davies said. “We didn’t think this could have ever happened to us, these tiny magnetic balls have caused such damage.”
“He is seriously, seriously ill. Two major surgeries in just a few days isn’t good for anybody, let alone a child. I am absolutely gutted, it’s a very worrying time,” she added.
“We wouldn’t have ever expected this. He’s gone from being a happy, healthy 11-year-old to being hooked up on wires and drips. His mum hasn’t left his side since Wednesday, she can’t.”
Surgeon Sanja Besarovic, a consultant pediatric surgeon, saw other cases of this in years past and warns that children who swallow the magnets may not have any concrete symptoms until the magnets have done their damage.
“Parents and schools should be aware of this craze so they can warn children of the life-threatening risks especially if swallowed at different times,” she said, according to the Yorkshire Post. “Most of children are asymptomatic and first symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting develop only after damage had been done.”
Clarke wants other parents to know what she didn’t.
“I’m in a nightmare,” she posted on Facebook, according to the Daily Mail. “This TikTok craze could/would have killed him if left any longer. Please talk to your children and tell them how DANGEROUS THESE ARE.
“Magneto Beads are deadly if swallowed. They even have them in educational/childcare settings for children to play with. DESTROY THEM…!!!!!”
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