UTAH (ABC4) — As parents begin Christmas shopping, a West Valley mom pleaded for parents to check warning labels on high-powered magnet toys after those magnets sent her son to the hospital.
“I would’ve never believed this happened from magnets,” said Misti Smith.
Smith’s child, Braxton, turned 20 in October. And for his birthday, his grandparents bought him a sensory toy kit on Amazon.
Braxton is nonverbal autistic. Smith said he has the mental age of a 5- or 6-year-old. She said he likes sensory toys, and those magnets are marketed toward kids and people with autism.
Things took a turn when Braxton started to throw up a lot.
Smith immediately sensed that something was wrong. She took Braxton to the emergency room, and doctors took multiple tests and then an X-Ray.
The X-Ray showed five high-powered magnets in his intestines.
“As soon as I pointed out, ‘Oh, I think those are the magnets he received for his birthday.’ The doctors immediately looked very concerned,” Smith said.
This causes two big problems.
“The magnets click together in different loops of the intestine, and that causes a blockage,” said Dr. Katie Russell from the University of Utah Health & Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.
And once they’re stuck together, they can tear the lining of the intestine. Russell said it happens more often than one might think.
“I probably see it at least once a month,” Russell said.
Smith said doctors performed two surgeries on Braxton, removing 12 inches of his small intestines to get the magnets out and fix the tearing.
Now he’s left with a large open wound to heal. His mom was baffled that these magnets are being sold as toys.
“This all started from magnets,” Smith said. “I just thought, ‘That’s insane.’ And we gave this to him.”
She said though there were warnings on the website, they weren’t clearly visible, and they ranged from ages 3+ to 14+.
She’s calling for legislation requiring companies to clearly label the dangers. But for now, she wanted to warn parents everywhere about these toys.
“Be careful. Read the warnings. Do your due diligence because there might be products that are a little misleading,” Smith said.
ABC4 reached out to Amazon for comment but has not heard back.
All photos of Braxton are courtesy of Misti Smith.