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Sault boy recovering after BBQ brush bristle removed from throat

Mom says she has switched to using wooden BBQ scraper

Accidentally swallowing a bristle from a wire barbecue brush is not an uncommon occurrence, the sharp objects known to have lodged in peoples throats, and in some cases, swallowed and settling as far down as the small intestine.

In fact, some doctors have urged barbecue owners to toss the brushes out. 

That’s exactly what the Sault’s Tara Lappage has done after her four-year-old son Bo accidentally swallowed a bristle from a wire barbecue brush at a family barbecue last Sunday evening, the sharp object having accidentally gotten into his food.

Fortunately, Bo is recovering now, but not before a long ordeal which involved surgery to remove a single one-centimetre long bristle from his left tonsil.

“After his last bite he swallowed and said ‘it really, really hurts.’ Within a couple of minutes he was screaming ‘there’s a needle in my throat.’ We figured it’s probably the barbecue brush,” Lappage told SooToday.

“We went to emerg. They did some x-rays and found it was a barbecue brush bristle. Both ends are very, very pointy.”

SAH emergency staff tried to remove the object Sunday, but an ears, nose and throat (ENT) specialist was not immediately available.

“It was confirmed by another x-ray that they didn’t get it. We did have to go back and forth to the hospital a few times. On Monday we had a CT scan just to see that it hadn’t moved because that would be quite dangerous. It was confirmed it was in the tonsil, which was lucky, because my understanding is it wasn’t going to move any further once it's in the tonsil.”

Bo’s discomfort worsened, and a 30-minute operation performed on Bo by an ENT specialist at the hospital Tuesday evening was successful, the tiny but sharp object removed.

“We stayed overnight at the hospital then we left Wednesday,” Lappage said.

The tired but relieved mother said the quality of care Bo received at Sault Area Hospital from doctors, nurses and technicians was “wonderful.”

Described as enjoying plenty of ice cream and Popsicles and back to his healthy, happy self, Lappage said, for Bo, “Wednesday was ‘make his own rules’ day (in regards to what he wanted to eat) because he went through three days of being uncomfortable, poked and prodded and examined.”

“He had two ice cream cones, Popsicles, you name it he had it. He’s happy and you wouldn’t even know he went through that. He says he just feels like he has a bruise in his throat, a little sore. We’re very lucky the tonsil didn’t have to come out.”

Lappage said she and her husband didn’t panic, but kept Bo calm and safe throughout the ordeal, though she added “I did shed some tears on Sunday because I didn’t want my kid to go to a hospital operating room. No parent does, but we were in the right place with the right people (at SAH).”

“My husband James was with me for most of the time, so it made it easier to have the support of each other.”

Apart from giving kudos to SAH staff, Lappage is urging others to discard wire barbecue brushes.

“At the hospital they said they had someone, an adult, have this happen to them a couple of weeks ago. My mom has told me for years to ‘throw that barbecue brush out.’ You don’t think about it because you use it rarely, it doesn’t look like it's falling apart. You never think about it happening to someone you know. I think you should just get rid of those brushes."

While appreciative of the SAH team, after the hospital visits and surgery needed to remove the wire object from Bo’s throat, Lappage said, “Nobody wants to see their little guy or little girl or anyone you know go through that pain and that process.”

Lappage said, in future, she will be using a wooden barbecue scraper with no bristles.

“It looks like a wooden spatula. There are other options out there.”


Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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