Ten-month-old girl able to go home after five surgeries from swallowing children’s water beads


Ten-month-old girl who needed five surgeries and life support after swallowing children’s water beads is finally able to go home — as Target pulls toy balls from its shelves

  • Kennedy Mitchell was rushed to hospital after vomiting and becoming sleepy
  • She had accidentally swallowed a water bead, which had blocked her bowel
  • Five surgeries were needed to repair the damage caused by the children’s toy

A 10-month-old girl can return home from the hospital following a near-death experience and five surgeries after she swallowed a children’s water bead.

Kennedy Mitchell, from Maine, was hospitalized after accidentally ingesting a bead made by toy company Chuckles & Roar.

She was originally given a 50 per cent chance of survival by doctors after the bead blocked her bowel.

Her mother, Folichia Mitchell, bought the toy for her eight-year-old son Joshua, who is on the autism spectrum, from Target on October 24.

Days later, daughter Kennedy was throwing up and became very lethargic.

Thinking it could be a food allergy, Ms Mitchell took Kennedy to hospital on November 1, where tests revealed a water bead in her stomach. 

Water beads, sometimes known as sensory beads, are water-absorbing beads made from super absorbent plastic, often marketed as toys or learning aids.

They can expand up to 200 times their original size when in water and only shrink back down to size when left to dry. They come in various colors and shapes like spheres, jewels and dinosaurs.

They can be used as educational tools and a form of entertainment for young children and children living with autism or increased anxiety 

Kennedy Mitchell underwent five surgeries after accidentally swallowing a water bead. A Change.org petition to ban the children’s toy has received over 40,650 signatures

Kennedy is now able to go home from hospital after spending the majority of the past month undergoing tests and surgeries following a blockage in her bowel which nearly killed her

Kennedy is now able to go home from hospital after spending the majority of the past month undergoing tests and surgeries following a blockage in her bowel which nearly killed her

The dangers of water beads 

What are the beads made of?

Water beads are made from superabsorbent polymers. Superabsorbent polymers can be synthetic (man-made) or natural. 

Most superabsorbent polymers manufactured today are synthetic and are made from petroleum products, polyacrylate, and other acrylics.

What are they used for?

Water beads were initially used as agricultural products intended to maintain soil moisture. Florists use them to keep a beautiful floral arrangement hydrated. 

Currently, water beads are used as fluid absorbers in baby diapers, incontinence garments, and menstrual pads. 

They are also marketed as children’s toys or therapies for children with sensory processing or autism spectrum disorders. 

Some brands of toy water beads include Orbeez, MarvelBeads, and Elongdi.

Are they dangerous if swallowed? 

Although the polymers used to manufacture water beads are non-toxic, the beads can absorb fluid and expand in the intestinal tract after they are swallowed, and this can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening intestinal blockage.

Source: National Poison Control Center

This caused a blockage in her bowel, which can be fatal as it cuts off blood supply to part of the intestines. 

A first surgery was performed to extract the water bead, but damage to Kennedy’s intestines was already done.

The 10-month-old went into septic shock, and had to be put on a ventilator.

A second operation checked for any more obstructions, but none were found.

Two further surgeries were needed to remove the extra fluid in her intestines and take pressure off her organs.

The National Poison Control Center says swallowing water beads can lead them to absorb fluid and can expand in the intestinal tract and cause life-threatening blockage. 

Ms Mitchell told Good Morning America doctors had told her three different times over the past month that they did not know if Kennedy was going to survive.

‘I’m grateful Kennedy can go home,’ Ms Mitchell said in a tearful video posted on TikTok yesterday. 

Target, which exclusively sold the water beads, has pulled the product off its shelves while it investigates with the product maker.

The retailer told DailyMail.com: ‘We’re aware of this tragic situation and send our heartfelt sympathy to this child and her family. 

‘Target requires our vendors to comply with all product safety standards, and all state, federal and local laws.’

It added: ‘We have removed the product from stores and Target.com while we review the situation with the vendor.’

Ms Mitchell is now trying to raise awareness of the dangers of the water beads.

The mother told Insider: ‘The label says they should be used only by kids over three. But the makers have got to add a warning that water beads could cause a blockage in the digestive system that could lead to death.’

A Change.org petition to ban the water beads has received over 40,650 signatures.



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