10-Year-Old Requires Esophageal Surgery After Choking on Fidget Spinner Part

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave after their wedding ceremony at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, England, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (Ben Birchhall/pool photo via AP)

If you have a child, chances are that child has a fidget spinner. There is plenty of debate about whether the small, three-pronged devices that spin around a central circle actually help with ADHD or PTSD, as they are marketed. But that’s neither here nor there. The issue of the day revolving around the new fad is whether or not they are safe for younger children. As one mom recently learned the hard way, the answer is decidedly no.


Kelly Rose Joniec, from Texas, posted about her scary encounter with fidget spinners on Facebook last week. She was driving her young daughter home from a swim meet when she heard her making a strange sound in the back seat.

USA Today reports:

“Looking back in the mirror, I saw her face turning red and drool pouring from her mouth,” Joniec said. “She could utter noises but looked panicked so I immediately pulled over.”

Joniec said her daughter was able to tell her she’d put part of her fidget spinner in her mouth to clean it and accidentally swallowed it.

Joniec said she drove to an urgent care facility where doctors were unable to figure out where the spinner piece, which is about the size of a quarter, was located. The pair were transported by ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital where an X-ray showed the spinner lodged in Joniec’s daughter’s esophagus.

Joniec wrote in a Facebook post (that has since been removed):

We had a pretty eventful Saturday.

On the way home from a fun swim meet, I heard Britton make an odd retching noise in the back seat as I was driving. Looking back in the mirror, I saw her face turning red and drool pouring from her mouth – she could utter noises but looked panicked so I immediately pulled over. She pointed to her throat saying she’d swallowed something, so I attempted Heimlich but there was no resistance. She said she’d put part of her fidget spinner in her mouth to clean it and somehow swallowed it.

Frantic, I went straight to urgent care where they checked her for choking. They couldn’t discern where the foreign object was located – along the airway or the esophagus. From there we got the red-light treatment via ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital. X-ray showed the spinner bushing lodged in her esophagus. The GI doctor was fascinated…he’d only just learned of fidget spinners that morning when he was at the mall with his son, so it was a surprise to be faced with one in a case a few hours later. He’s also an advocate for related child safety in toys, so he took a special interest in the case.

After multiple, very stressful attempts to place an IV, Britton was taken to surgery to endoscopically locate and remove the object. Fortunately we had a positive outcome, but it was pretty scary there for a while…not only because of the initial ingestion, but then the concern about the composition and structure of the object, and finally, the risk with general anesthesia.

From this I wish to offer some word of caution to parents. Fidget spinners are the current craze so they are widely distributed. Kids of all ages may be getting them, but not all spinners come with age-appropriate warnings. The bushings pop out easily, so if you have young kids (under 8 yr old) keep in mind that these present a potential choking hazard.

[Sidenote: I certainly wasn’t looking for an excuse to tour the brand new Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands but this was a pretty effective way. Staff was great and the facility is very nice…but a little quiet on Saturday afternoons.]


Joniec’s daughter was lucky, but another child might end up in a far worse situation with the spinners, which do not come with age-appropriate warnings. If your child is under the age of eight, be aware that the small, circular portions of the objects can pop out fairly easily.

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