Girl undergoes emergency surgery after swallowing popular magnet toy

Autumn Kellum is recovering from surgery after accidentally swallowing toy magnets that are popular at school.

Autumn Kellum is recovering from surgery after accidentally swallowing toy magnets that are popular at school.

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – A Columbiana middle school student was rushed to the hospital after ingesting a few small magnetic balls that have recently become a popular toy among middle school and high school students.

Autumn Kellum, a seventh-grader at Columbiana Middle School, was playing with the toy magnets called Buckyballs when she accidentally swallowed a few of the magnets at school. A few days went by and Kellum started to have worsening stomach pains and was then rushed to Shelby Baptist Medical Center on Sept. 18.

X-rays were performed, which determined the magnets were stuck in Kellum’s small intestine. She was then transported to Children’s Hospital where she underwent surgery.

The surgeons had to remove six inches of Kellum’s small intestine as well as repair one hole on her large intestine and six small holes on her small intestine.

Debra Hughes, grandmother of Kellum, said the toys are dangerous and said she wants to spread awareness to any parents with small children or any children who might want to buy the toy.

“My main goal is to spread awareness about how dangerous these magnets can be,” said Hughes. “I am in no way shape or form blaming the school. I’m just pointing fingers at the company. There are several organizations trying to get these off the market.”

The Buckyballs companies website has a form allowing users to file a claim against the company. The company has since changed its name to United We Ball.

As of Sept. 22, Kellum is still recovering at the hospital. She was able to take the time to talk about the popularity of the magnets and how students are playing with them in school.

“A whole bunch of girls bring them and put them on their lockers or use them pretending to have piercings,” said Kellum. “They will put them on their ears, nose and lips. Some people give them away and try to trade you for different ones.”

With Christmas rapidly approaching, Hughes said she wants to make parents aware of the potential danger of the magnetic toys, especially parents with younger children.

“We don’t want any parent to have to go through the things we’ve went through the past few days,” Hughes said.