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Mom warns ‘Buckyballs’ may be dangerous Christmas present

GALESBURG, Illinois -- A Galesburg mom is warning other parents that a popular Christmas present may be dangerous.

They're called Buckyballs -- small, powerful magnets sold as a desk toy for adults.

"I had never even heard of them, and then to know if they're ingested that they can cause so much damage. We had no idea at all," said Ginger Halouska.

Five years ago, Halouska's 10-year-old son, Nate Heck, swallowed seven of the balls while playing.

"We were in the living room playing games... then I had to go to the bathroom, and that didn't work. Then we went to bed, and I couldn't fall asleep or anything," said Heck.

Halouska and Heck went to the hospital, and they ended up in Peoria for emergency surgery to remove the balls. Doctors also had to repair four holes in Heck's intestines.

"They [the balls] had separated, but then going through the intestines, they were drawn back to each other. In the process of getting to each other, that's where the friction tore holes in the intestine," said Halouska.

Nate isn't alone. According to the Trouble in Toyland annual survey of toy safety, roughly 80 percent of high-powered magnet ingestions require invasive medical intervention.

Just last week, a suburban Chicago family said it happened to their 11-year-old daughter.

Buckyballs were officially recalled in 2014, but the company sued. They were put back on the market last year.

"In 2016, hearing they were coming back, I was kinda devastated at the thought of it," said Halouska.

Now, she wants people to know about the possible dangers before Buckyballs end up in any child's stocking.

"Throw them away immediately. It's just not worth the chance," she said.

Labels on Buckyballs warn they should be kept away from children and never put in the nose or mouth.