A schoolboy was just hours from death after swallowing magnetic tongue studs designed to look like a piercing.
Michael Delaney, 15, needed life-saving surgery after accidentally swallowing the studs, which are a new fashion craze sweeping Britain.
The powerful magnets – which look like ball-bearings – ripped through his intestines and acid from the metal also caused serious damage to his bowel. His injuries could result in lifelong problems.
Michael was one of four pupils at St Matthew’s RC High School in Moston, Manchester admitted to hospital after swallowing the products.
Teenagers are now being warned of the dangers of the potentially-fatal fashion craze.
Michael initially attended North Manchester General Hospital complaining of a stomach upset two weeks after swallowing the tiny metal balls on a bus journey.
Surgeons had to cut into his bowel in three places to retrieve the accessories and later told him he had been just four hours away from losing his life.
After discovering what had caused the horrific internal damage, the school urged any other pupils who had swallowed the ball bearings to go straight to hospital – and circulated a warning letter to parents and other schools.
Three girls from St Matthew’s aged between 13 and 16 were also admitted to hospital as a precaution but were given the all-clear by doctors.
Now Michael, of Rochdale Road, Harpurhey, has sent out a warning to other youngsters experimenting with the fake piercings.
He said: “It was a really frightening experience. I couldn’t walk, talk or even move and the thought that I could be dead if I hadn’t gone into hospital is really scary. “
They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and found the studs when they put a camera inside me and the magnets stuck to the camera.
“I just had a really intense stomach ache but it never occurred to me that it might have been the studs. I’d swallowed them two weeks before but just thought they’d pass through.
“I thought they were safe but now I know how serious magnets can be and I’d say to anyone who uses these studs that you’re putting yourself in real danger by putting them in your mouth.”
Michael spent almost a week in hospital after being admitted last Monday with suspected appendicitis.
He now faces an agonising four-week wait to find out if damage sustained to his bowel will be permanent.
His dad, also called Michael, said: “Michael’s a 15-year-old lad but if he’d been a seven or eight-year-old it could have killed him.
“It’s really important that people are made aware of the dangers.”
It is believed the studs had been distributed around the school by a pupil who had bought them on holiday. It is not yet known who produced them.
The packaging defined the product as ‘facial studs’ and showed a cartoon picture of a boy wearing the accessory on his tongue.
The products are designed to sit on either side of the tongue with the magnetic connection between the two studs holding them in place.
Rob Wall, deputy headteacher at St Matthew’s, said: “As soon as we were aware of what had happened to Michael, we immediately circulated warnings to the parents and the teachers and we also made other schools in the area aware of what had happened.
We also urged any pupils who thought they may have swallowed anything magnetic to go straight to hospital as a precautionary measure.
“Our thoughts are with Michael and his family at what has been a very distressing time and we are glad to see the message is getting out there of the potential dangers.”
The fashion accessories have previously been flagged up as a potential health risk in the US following similar cases.
Last year, Colorado schoolgirl Lauren Garcia, 13, required life-saving surgery after magnetic studs burned several holes in her intestines. And in January, two-year-old Jericho Monteith, from Nevada, needed nine inches of intestine removed after magnets burrowed their way through his system.
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