Schoolboy, nine, almost dies after swallowing magnets for TikTok challenge 


A nine-year-old boy almost died after swallowing tiny magnets as part of a TikTok challenge, his mother has revealed.

Jack McGeoch was taken to hospital after suffering with severe abdominal pain and vomiting at his home in Borestone, Stirling, last Tuesday.

His mother Carolann said an ultrasound scan found ‘something was blocking his bowel’, with Jack later admitting he had swallowed magnets.

The youngster had to be blue-lighted to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow on Wednesday and by Thursday morning he needed emergency surgery.

Ms McGeoch was told her son might die because of the devastating impact of the magnets sticking together through the bowel wall.  

She said: ‘It was explained to me that the damage these magnets can cause could be so extreme that he might not pull through. 

Jack McGeoch (pictured), nine, was taken to hospital after suffering with severe abdominal pain and vomiting at his home in Borestone, Stirling, last Tuesday

Jack McGeoch (pictured), nine, was taken to hospital after suffering with severe abdominal pain and vomiting at his home in Borestone, Stirling, last Tuesday

‘Through floods of tears I then had to sign my permission to the operation and to acknowledge that ‘anything could happen’.’

Jack swallowed a number of small Magneto balls as part of a TikTok challenge, his mother claimed. 

It is not known what the challenge was, but there are currently a number of videos on the short-video app showing teenagers putting the balls into their mouths to create the illusion of tongue and lip piercings. 

Revealed: The dangers of swallowing magnets – and why the NHS wants them banned 

A potentially life threatening social media trend, involving tiny magnets that can be easily swallowed, triggered the NHS to call for a ban in May.

These tiny magnetic balls are widely sold as creative toys, with a recent TikTok craze seeing them used as fake facial piercings by teenagers.

The viral prank sees people place two magnetic balls either side of their tongue and wiggle it around, creating the illusion that their piercing is real.

NHS bosses issued a patient safety alert after at least 65 children were admitted to hospital for urgent surgery in the last three years after swallowing magnets.

The magnetic objects are forced together in the intestines or bowels, squeezing the tissue so that the blood supply is cut off. 

Ingesting more than one can be life-threatening and cause significant damage within hours.

England’s top children’s doctor, Professor Simon Kenny, wants the magnets banned altogether to prevent further incidents.

They are much more complex than button batteries to extract. 

The child will need emergency surgery, then, depending on the severity of the injuries, they may need numerous operations, bowel resection and time in paediatric intensive care. 

Source: Child Accident Prevent Trust

During a four-hour operation the ‘funny, outgoing, healthy’ nine-year-old’s appendix, small bowel and 30cm of his large bowel were removed ‘all for the sake of some silly magnets,’ his mother said.

Five days after the surgery Jack is still solely on fluids, cannot walk unaided and is ‘all round not the wee boy he was a week ago’, Ms McGeoch said.

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‘The surgeons are fighting tooth and nail to have these magnets banned for the damage they can do.

‘Jack is lucky to be alive, but if his experience can prevent other kids from enduring the same then I will do everything I can to get the word out there.

‘There are videos across social media encouraging kids to do tricks with these but what the videos fail to mention is that ultimately those tiny wee magnets could kill. Very easily.

‘Jack’s life has changed forever, let’s stop others from having to go through the same.’

Jack is not the first child to fall victim to the Tik Tok magnet challenge, with the NHS putting out a warning against putting magnets in your mouth earlier this year.

In May, Ellis Tripp, 11, was rushed to hospital after complaining of stomach pains, before surgeons made the ‘horrific discovery’ magnetic balls were inside his intestines and bowel.

His grandmother told Worchester News: ‘Although he is home now, he is a different child. He has lost a lot of weight. He has gone from a bubbly, happy little boy to being quiet and subdued.’

Faye Elizabeth, from Rainhill, previously revealed her 13-year-old daughter had to have her appendix and part of her bowel removed after copying a video recreating a tongue piercing that she saw on TikTok. 

Surgeons removed 15 magnetic beads from the young girl’s internal organs.     

Professor Simon Kenny, paediatric surgeon and national clinical director for children and young people at NHS England, said: ‘Magnets are a source of fascination for children, and magnetic toys can look like a cheap and cheerful way of occupying the kids, but ultimately they aren’t safe and shouldn’t be for sale.

‘There is nothing fun for children or their parents about surgery to remove magnets that have been swallowed and become stuck together through different parts of the intestines, or the long-term physical problems and internal scarring that can be left behind.

‘I would urge parents to be aware of the dangers associated with magnetic toys but ultimately, the only way we can prevent future incidents is to stop these items being sold altogether.’ 

MailOnline has contacted TikTok and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for comment.



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