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Merthyr Tydfil: Toy beads warning after boy, 4, nearly died

“The doctor thought that he was lying on a necklace at first but upon looking at it, I knew straight away that it was these beads,” she said.

“Then within five minutes the doctors were arranging for an ambulance to take us down to the Children’s Hospital in Cardiff.

“We got blue lighted down. I started to panic. It was only then that I realised how serious it was.”

Ms Foley said she had bought the magnetic beads toy for her eight-year-old daughter Poppy.

The toys are popular with children, with a variety of videos on YouTube showing how you can make shapes, objects and houses with the tiny magnetic balls.

Jude in hospital
Jude’s mother says the experience which left him in hospital for weeks was “horrific”

Lyndsey however had no idea her son had been swallowing “one or two, here or there” over the space of a couple of months.

“The surgeon said if I hadn’t brought him in when I did, it could have been fatal,” she said.

“Due to the nature of the bowel and the force of the beads, it was tearing holes in his bowel which was causing his bowel to leak so an infection was spreading through his body. He was getting poisoned.”

Surgeons were operating on Jude for seven hours due to the complexity of the operation.

Jude could not eat anything and was bed-bound for seven days during his two-week hospital stay.

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Jude's x-ray and five-inch scar
Jude has been left with a five-inch scar after surgery

His mother said: “He was in pain. It was traumatic for him. It was horrible for me because I couldn’t give him a cwtch because he was hooked up to so many pipes.

“I am very lucky Jude has no long-term health affects, but the surgeon did warn us that he may have had a colostomy bag for lif

Ms Foley now wants to warn other parents of the dangers from small toys.

“If you’ve got these beads at home, remove them. They are so dangerous.

“I still have that guilt, thinking what I put my child though or what could have been… How his life could have changed through me purchasing a toy that you think is safe. I never would have thought the damage it would have caused.”

Jude is having regular check-ups and is doing well, but a five-inch scar on his tummy will be a reminder of what happened.

Jude is now on the mend

“Jude has learnt his lesson now – don’t put anything in your mouth,” said Ms Foley. “And me, as a parent, I am more aware of what I am buying.”

Alison Farrar, of Trading Standards Wales, said it’s important to make sure children “don’t play with toys designed for older children”.

Specific toys for different age groups

“There are rules round what goes on products and those rules are tighter when something is designed that might appeal to a small child – even if that is not a toy for small children,” she said.

“Children follow crazes on social media and you can watch videos of other children playing with toys, what we need to be sure is that the right age group is playing with the right toy.

“And that’s what’s happened here, the child didn’t realise the magnets were dangerous and the parents didn’t know the child was playing with them.”

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Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental public health at Public Health Wales, said: “We are asking parents to think carefully before buying products containing magnets and button batteries for children.

“Mini magnet toys don’t make good stocking fillers. They should always be stored out of the reach of small children.

“Similar dangers come from children swallowing button batteries too.”

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