Just before Thanksgiving, 14-year-old Christin Rivas got six rare-earth magnets from a friend at church, thinking she could "freak out" her classmates by using them for tricks.
The deceiving pea-size magnets are made for car wheel bearings and computer hard drives but are often sold for jewelry and art projects or touted as an arthritis cure.
They are so powerful that Christin could magically pull a pen up the wall while standing in a neighboring classroom at school.
But the joke went sour when the seventh grader inadvertently swallowed the dangerous magnets and was rushed to surgery before they perforated her stomach.
"I do feel it was one of those stupid kid moments," said Christin, who lives in Melbourne, Fla. "I was going to the bathroom and I put them in my mouth because I didn't want to put them on the floor. I wasn't quite thinking. The kid on the other side said something that made me laugh and swallow them."
"I started to try to make myself throw up because I read they were really dangerous and got really worried," she said. "I told my teacher, and she sent me to the clinic and they called my mom."
Christin was lucky. Surgeons at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando were able to retrieve the magnets by cutting open her small intestine, and today she is back at school.