The fortunate COVID kids’ stories
The COVID coronavirus pandemic is well known to be gentle with children. More than 90% of children who catch the infection get only mild symptoms, and they usually have a speedy full recovery.
One of these children, a 3-year old girl, who caught the infection from her father was admitted to Dr Sulaiman Alhabib Hospital, Dubai Healthcare city.
As part of her work up, she had a chest x ray, which has shown an incidental presence of 4 magnets attached to each other. The parents did not have any background information, where, when and how their child swallowed those magnets.
Magnets can be very dangerous when they are swallowed, because they stick to each other, incarcerating loops of bowel in between with subsequent adhesions, devitalization of tissue and perforation. Unfortunately, significant damage and possible life-threatening complications are possible.
If the ingestion is picked up early, urgent endoscopy can take the magnets out before serious sequelae occur, which happened in this scenario.
Dr Yasser Negm, our pediatric gastroenterologist has interfered with urgent endoscopy. But he found only 2 of the 4 magnets in the child’s stomach. They were in the form of the small round toys:
It was obvious that the other 2 magnets (which appeared attached to these 2 on the x ray) have already passed the stomach to the intestine, where they got stuck through the walls of the intestine and the stomach to the 2 magnets appearing in the picture. Neither of the 4 magnets could move further and the danger is to the bowel tissues stuck in between.
Dr Yasser Negm removed the 2 stomach magnets, yet an ulcer was found on the stomach wall beneath.
Following the procedure, the girl was given treatment for her ulcer and a laxative to speed up the movement of the other 2 magnets through the intestines, helped by the release of magnetic adherence.
The 2 magnets left came out the next day with bowel opening. The girl was discharged safely home following recovery from COVID and more importantly the more malicious magnets.
Dr Yasser Negm has emphasized that the International child safety organizations have consistently warned against ingestible magnet toys. The industry should be regulated, considering this serious child health hazard. This became more of an issue during the lockdown where energetic children were staying home 24/7. If such accident occurs, parents should seek the help of a pediatric gastroenterologist as soon as possible. Catching the magnets or other dangerous foreign bodies like batteries by endoscopy before passing the stomach will save the child a major open surgery and complications which can be life endangering.