OKLAHOMA CITY, March 28 (UPI) -- A 10-year-old Oklahoma boy was thought to be suffering from a stomach flu until an X-ray of his stomach revealed the real cause of his discomfort: eight magnets.
Peggy and Shane Westphal said their 10-year-old son, Brady, fell ill recently with symptoms that appeared to be a stomach flu, and doctors confirmed he appeared to be suffering from the relatively common ailment.
However, the boy's symptoms persisted for more than four days, and an X-ray confirmed Brady's almost too-late confession: He had swallowed eight magnets.
Doctors from Children's Hospital at Oklahoma University Medical Center said the magnets could have been deadly if left untreated.
"These magnets, especially if swallowed at different times, the magnets don't move all the way through the intestinal tact," Dr. John Grunow told KFOR-TV.
Grunow said the magnets are damaging to tissue and blood supply.
"They'll end up pinching together one magnet attracted to the other magnet and the tissue that's in between gets pinched and that blood supply ultimately dies," Grunow told KOKH-TV.
Doctors said Brady is recovering from surgery to repair six holes in his gut. They said Brady lost three inches of his colon due to the injuries and is lucky to have recovered without requiring the use of a colostomy bag.
Grunow said he and his colleagues have seen two cases of children falling ill from swallowing magnets in recent weeks.
"The reality is they can be deadly," Grunow said. "I'm not trying to overstate it. They can be deadly."
A 5-year-old girl in Hemet, Calif., was believed to have a series of sinus infections lasting for more than six months recently before she blew her nose and out fell the real cause -- a safety pin.