Schoolboy nearly died after swallowing magnetic tongue studs designed to look like a piercing
Magnets are designed to sit on either side of the tongue to hold stud in place
Michael Delaney needed surgery after accidentally swallowing them
Magnets ripped through his intestines and acid damaged his bowelTeenager was four hours from death when he had life-saving surgery
09:15 GMT, 11 December 2012
Michael Delaney was forced to undergo major surgery after swallowing his magnetic tongue studs
A fashion craze almost cost a teenage boy his life after he swallowed the magnetic tongue studs he was wearing.
Michael Delaney, 15, was only hours from death and needed surgery when the studs, which are much more powerful than ordinary magnets, began making holes in his digestive system.
The metal decorations, usually from three to five millimetres across, are worn on either side of the tongue, held in place by their magnetism so they look like a piercing but without the hole.
But they can react with stomach acids and cause lethal internal damage.
If they end up in different parts of the intestine the powerful magnets in some studs can make holes in the soft tissue as they are drawn back together.
Last night Michael’s family issued a warning to youngsters to be aware of the danger if they were to swallow the studs, which are freely available in Britain.
They are popular because they allow teenagers to look as if they have had a piercing without incurring the wrath of their parents.
Michael swallowed his on the bus to school but thought nothing more about it until a fortnight later when he began to have crippling stomach ache.
He was admitted to hospital as an emergency with suspected appendicitis.
Surgeons had to cut into his bowel in three places to retrieve the studs and later told him he had been only four hours from dying.
He was one of four pupils at St Matthew’s Roman Catholic High School in Moston, Manchester, who swallowed the jewellery.
Three girls, aged between 13 and 16, were admitted and given the all-clear.
The magnets are designed to sit on either side of the tongue. Right: Surgeons at North Manchester General Hospital had to cut into Michael's bowel in three places to retrieve the magnetic studs
The school has urged any other pupils who swallowed the studs to go straight to hospital.
Michael, of Harpurhey, Manchester, said: ‘It was a really frightening experience.
‘I couldn’t walk, talk or even move, and the thought that I could be dead if I hadn’t gone into hospital is really scary.
‘They couldn’t figure out what was
wrong with me, and found them when they put a camera inside me and the
magnets stuck to the camera.
‘I just had a really intense stomach ache but it never occurred to me that it might have been the studs.
‘I’d swallowed them two weeks before but just thought they’d pass through.
A CT scan of Colorado schoolgirl Lauren Garcia clearly shows the magnetic balls, which stuck to her small intestine and began burrowing through it
‘I thought they were safe but now I
know how serious magnets can be and I’d say to anyone who uses these
studs that you’re putting yourself in real danger by putting them in
Michael spent almost a week in hospital and now faces a four-week wait to find out if the damage to his bowel will be permanent.
His father, also called Michael, said:
‘If he’d been a seven or eight-year-old it could have killed him. It’s
really important that people are made aware of the dangers.’
It is believed the studs had been distributed around the school by another pupil who had brought them back from a holiday.
The packaging defined the product as
‘facial studs’ and showed a cartoon picture of a boy wearing the
accessory on his tongue. Rob Wall, deputy head at St Matthew’s, said:
‘As soon as we were aware of what had happened to Michael, we circulated
warnings to the parents and the teachers and we also made other schools
in the area aware of what had happened.
‘We also urged any pupils who thought
they may have swallowed anything magnetic to go straight to hospital as a
‘Our thoughts are with Michael and
his family at what has been a very distressing time and we are glad to
see the message is getting out there of the potential dangers.’
The fashion accessories have already been flagged up as a potential health risk in America following a number of similar cases.
Last year, Lauren Garcia, 13, of Wheat
Ridge in Colorado, required surgery after magnetic studs that she had
swallowed made several holes in her intestines.