Ethan and Buckyballs

Ethan and Buckyballs

Back in January 2016, we were finishing our refit and tying up all the loose jobs we still needed to complete.  Ethan was going to preschool in Fort Lauderdale while Joe and I were working on the boat each day.  One afternoon, I needed to go run an errand by myself, leaving Joe and Ethan on MAHI.

MAHI in Ft. Lauderdale

When I got back to the boat, Joe pulled me aside to let me know that Ethan had eaten one or more  Buckyballs.   These are super magnet toys we had purchased at the Exploratorium Children’s Museum in San Francisco.  However, unbeknownst to us, they had been recalled due to children eating the magnet balls.  If the child eats more than one, it can perforate inside the digestive tract with potentially fatal results.  Not good.

Of course, as soon as I hear this, I googled Buckyballs and discovered they had been recalled and why.   I immediately phoned an after hours pediatrician clinic in Ft. Lauderdale to inquire whether they had an Xray machine or not. As soon as they learned why I asked this, they said to rush Ethan over to the Children’s Hospital, which was only about two miles away.

So off we go.  The hospital ER took him back relatively quick, since if he has ingested more than one, we are looking at emergency surgery.   The Xray tech called us over to view the film.  I wish I had the foresight to take a picture, but we all had a good laugh when we looked at the film.  There was one brightly shining magnet ball inside his cute little body.

Breathing a sign of relief over our near miss, we returned to the boat with instructions to wait for it to pass through.  The remainder of the Buckyballs were immediately thrown away to prevent a repeat occurrence.  As we started thinking about it, that stupid little Buckyball had the potential of damaging our brand new marine head (toilet for my land lubber friends) macerator component if it decided to come out when Ethan wasn’t at school.  The magnet would then go into the forward holding tank if it safely passed through our sanitary system.

Ethan, age 4, taken right before he ate the Buckyball.

At one point, we thought we were hearing some funny noises coming from that head, but over time, we thought we had dodged this bullet.

However, in Year two, we were on a long passage away from land, and Joe decided to pump out the forward holding tank.   Not soon after, we learned that the macerator pump for the forward holding tank had failed.  I remember it making some pretty strange noises, so we put 2 and 2 together.  Could it have been the Return of Buckyball come back to haunt us?

We will never know for sure, but that ended up being one rather expensive toy!  If anyone reading this have small super magnets on their boat, or around small children, please do yourself a favor and toss them quick!

Ethan at age 4 in Florida


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