An eight-year-old boy in England died after swallowing magnetic balls


Eight-year-old Rhys Millum died on October 2, 2022. The case came to court only last week, because it is a so-called inquest – a court proceeding in Anglo-Saxon law, which aims to determine the cause of death, if it was not the fault of a stranger or that person died. The BBC reports on the accident.

He was writhing in stomach pain

Two days before his death, the otherwise healthy Rhys complained of abdominal pain. The boy’s mother said that on Friday, September 30, her son began writhing in pain and screaming, so she immediately took him to the emergency room, where they were told that Rhys might be suffering from appendicitis or a perforated bowel. The doctor performed an examination, which refuted both of these suspicions.

So Rhys was put on painkillers and discharged home with a diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis – a common disease in children believed to be of viral origin.

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The mother later told the inquest that when Rhys ate something that day, he later vomited it up.

The boy was then taken for the weekend by his father, Richard Millum, who described in court that the boy had been feeling well and ill and had stomach aches. On Sunday, Millum considered taking the boy back to hospital as his condition worsened.

That evening, Rhys told his father that he “couldn’t see” and then passed out, prompting the boy’s father to perform CPR. When paramedics arrived, they spent almost an hour trying to resuscitate Rhys while he was in cardiac arrest. He was taken to Harrogate District Hospital where he was pronounced dead just before 9pm. This was two days after Rhys started complaining of pain.

He received the magnetic balls as a gift

It wasn’t until an autopsy found that Rhys had swallowed ten magnetic spheres about three millimeters in diameter. Because the balls joined together, they first blocked and then perforated his intestine, causing the boy’s death.

Both parents said at the trial that Rhys never mentioned swallowing the pellets and neither of them saw him put them in his mouth.

Police were also investigating the possibility that Rhys may have taken part in a “TikTok piercing challenge”, which involved placing magnetic beads on either side of his face to mimic a piercing. However, she found no evidence of this.

Coroner Catherine Cundy, assigned to the case, said it was most likely an accident. “I understand that magnetic beads are available and legal, but I hope that the tragedy of Rhys’ death will raise awareness of the dangers of such items, particularly to young children who may ingest them.”

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The article is in Czech


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