A four-year-old boy was rushed to the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton after swallowing a bristle from a metal barbecue brush.
Oliver Schenn ate the bristle accidentally Tuesday evening after it became stuck to his food. The stiff stray wire then lodged in his throat.
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His mother, Jenna Kuchik, said she thought the boy was having an allergic reaction when he complained about a stabbing pain in his throat, kept gagging and couldn't swallow.
"He started crying hysterically," she recalled.
She drove her son to the hospital in Whitecourt, where they live.
An X-ray revealed the bristle, which was about 1.5 centimetres long.
Oliver was taken to the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton by ambulance. Surgeons removed the bristle Wednesday.
"For a little guy, that's just awful and scary," Kuchik said.
"It was awful seeing my son going through that," she added. "I couldn't imagine anybody else or their kid having to go through it when it's preventable."
Oliver has since recovered and the family is back in Whitecourt. Their metal barbecue brush is in the trash, Kuchik said.
"What's been the most difficult is that we were aware of this happening to other people," she said. "We obviously didn't take it seriously enough."
Dr. Louis Francescutti, an emergency physician at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital, said it could have been worse.
If the bristle hadn't caught in Oliver's throat, Francescutti said, it might have torn a hole in the boy's intestine.
"Contents that may have bacteria in them spill into the bowel and then you get what's called peritonitis," he said.
"In other words, you get an inflammation of the lining of your abdominal cavity."
In severe cases, he said, peritonitis can be fatal.
"It's something that can be totally prevented by getting a different kind of brush," Francescutti said. "The metal one is the worst one of all."
Instead, he recommends a brush with a scrubbing head made of wood or pumice, and to change that brush regularly to prevent splintering.
"Ask yourself, 'Would I want to eat part of this if it's broke down?' And if the answer's no, then obviously don't use it."