A 3-year-old girl from Portland, Oregon had an invasive surgery operation over the weekend after she swallowed 37 Buckyball magnets that tore holes in her lower intestine and stomach. 

Payton Bushnell’s parents had initially thought that she had caught the stomach flu because she had abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but after her “flu-like” symptoms continued to worsen they rushed her to the doctor, last Friday, who performed an X-ray to find a circle resembling a bracelet in the toddler’s stomach, according to KPTV reports.

"They saw a circle had formed in her stomach, and they thought she swallowed a bracelet," Payton's mother, Kelli Bushnell told KPTV.

Later they found out that Payton had swallowed 37 high-powered desktop toy magnets that had snapped her intestines together and tore three holes in her lower intestine and one in her stomach. 

"The surgeon came out and said, 'I wouldn't do this unless I absolutely have to but we have to cut your daughter open,'" Payton’s father, Aaron Bushnell, told KPTV.

The surgeons at Randall Children's Hospital had immediately performed intensive procedure on Payton, and the toddler survived.  She is now on her way to full recovery. 

Doctors said that if they had not conducted a routine X-ray when Payton came in for a checkup, she may have died.  Doctors said that she exhibited all the common symptoms among children who had swallowed magnets in the past, but because they were similar to flu symptoms, the problem would be difficult to detect without an X-ray.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there is an increasing number of incident reports indicating that high-powered magnets continue to be a safety risk to children, in a November news release.

CPSC said in November 2011 that incidents involving high-powered ball-bearing magnets and increased since 2009 when there was only one report that year.  The agency reported that there were seven cases in 2010 and 14 in 2011. The agency said that there were a total of 22 cases which involved children ranging from 18 months to 15 years old.

The agency reported that incidences among teenagers had been when magnets had being “unintentionally inhaled and swallowed” when older children try to mimic body piercings by placing two or more magnets on opposite sides of their tongue, nose or ear lobes.

"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent looking magnets," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard

The CPSC said that small high-powered magnets and magnet components that can be easily swallowed are prohibited in toys for children under the 14 years of age, and that the reported incidents usually involved magnets that are marketed to adults who use them as desk toys and stress relievers. 

and know how to treat a child in distress."

"High-powered magnets, such as Buckyballs, are products for adult use only and should be kept away from all children," said Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, the manufacturer of Buckyballs said in the November statement.

The health agency recommended that parents should seek immediate medical attention if they suspect that their child may have swallowed a magnet, and to look for symptoms like abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.