8-year-old Rhys Millum died on October 2, 2022 after swallowing 10 magnets to try to complete a viral TikTok challenge that consisted of placing ball-shaped magnets on both sides of the cheek to simulate a piercing.
The young man from Harrogate County in England told his mother that he was feeling stomach pains, but he avoided telling her that he had ingested magnets. His mother immediately took him to the hospital, doctors diagnosed him with a possible infection and sent him to his house. Days later, the minor's difficulties worsened, he returned to the hospital and died.
A CT scan of the minor's body confirmed that the magnets had perforated his intestine. The coroner in the case, Catherine Cundy, expressed her opinion on these elements and the care that must be taken with the boys: “I understand that magnetic balls are available and legal, but I hope that the tragedy of Rhys's death highlights the danger of such objects, particularly for small children who may swallow them.”
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What were the magnets that the 8-year-old boy died from?
The magnets from which the 8-year-old boy died in England are small, ball-shaped magnets made of neodymium, a rare earth mineral. These balls are incredibly powerful for their size due to the material's high magnetic flux density, allowing them to connect firmly and maintain their shape when handled.
These were the magnets that the 8-year-old boy swallowed (Photo: BBC).
They come in various sizes, but the most common in England are the small magnetic balls with diameters varying from 3mm to 5mm. These sizes are versatile for use as toys and are legal in the UK, although they should be kept away from children.
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10 items that are recommended to be kept away from children
Small magnets: like those discussed above, can cause internal damage if swallowed. Small batteries: Button batteries can be swallowed and cause chemical burns to the digestive tract. Medications: Can be mistaken for candy but have potentially lethal effects. Food products cleaning: contain chemicals that can be toxic if swallowed or come into contact with the skin or eyes. Paints and solvents: volatile chemicals can cause poisoning if inhaled or swallowed. Small objects and toy parts: choking hazard if placed in the mouth and block the airway.Lanyards and long ropes: can cause strangulation if played with inappropriately.Plastic packaging and bags: risk of suffocation if placed on the head or in the mouth. Sharp tools and utensils: risk of serious cuts or injuries. Cosmetics and personal hygiene products: may contain ingredients that are dangerous if swallowed.