Toddler Swallows 37 Magnets: X-Ray Finds Buckyball Toys Shredded Payton Bushnell's Intestines

03/05/2012 09:25 am ET | Updated Mar 05, 2012

A 3-year-old Oregon girl underwent invasive surgery over the weekend after she ate 37 magnets, ripping holes in her lower intestine and stomach.

Payton Bushnell's parents thought that she had possibly come down with stomach flu when she started showing symptoms, according to KPTV.

When they took her to a doctor on Friday, an X-ray revealed a bracelet-shaped object in her stomach. But the object was no bracelet -- Bushnell had swallowed 37 high-powered Buckyball magnets, a desktop toy.

The magnets throughout her digestive tract forced the little girl's intestines to snap together. They punctured four holes in her intestines and stomach, UPI reported.

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

Payton Bushnell is on her way to a full recovery, but doctors said that if they hadn't conducted a routine X-ray when she came in for a checkup, she could have died. Her symptoms -- abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea -- were flu-like and common among children who have swallowed magnets, which is why the problem is difficult to diagnose without an X-ray.

The station reported that there have been 22 cases of children swallowing magnets since 2009.

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