Boy battling for life with 42 needles inside

RIO DE JANEIRO: A two-year-old boy with more than 40 sewing needles stuck in him is being airlifted to another hospital in northeastern Brazil because two of the needles are close to his heart, an official said today.

A police official, meanwhile, told The Associated Press the boy’s stepfather had been arrested, that he had confessed to sticking the needles into the boy with the help of a woman, and that authorities were investigating whether black magic was involved.

Surgeons at a hospital in the town of Barreiras in Bahia state decided not to try to remove any needles after discovering that two were very near the boy’s heart, said an official at Hospital do Oeste.

She said doctors had located 42 needles in the boy - eight fewer than they had reported finding on Wednesday. The boy was in intensive care but was in stable condition before being airlifted 390 km north, she said.

“He’ll be flown by helicopter to a hospital in Salvador that has a special heart unit,” the official said. “He has two needles near his heart and our doctors didn’t want to take a chance.” On Wednesday, Dr Luiz Cesar Soltoski at the Hospital Oeste, who was treating the boy, said surgeons had hoped to remove most

of the needles — some as long as 5 cm — but those in the lungs

will have to wait until the child’s breathing improves.

The boy’s mother, a maid, took him to a hospital in the small northeastern city of Ibotirama last Thursday, saying he was complaining of pain. Three days later, after X-rays revealed many of the needles, doctors moved him to a larger hospital in the nearby city of Barreiras.

The mother told police she didn’t know how the needles got inside her son, whose name was not released because of his age.

The boy’s father, Gessivaldo Alves, earlier told the newspaper A Tarde that he believed his son could have been a victim of a black magic ritual. Alves reportedly said he visited the home where the boy was living and found unspecified items that could be used for black magic.

The doctor said he believed the needles were stuck into the child’s body one by one.

“We think it could have only been by penetration because we found needles in the lung, the left leg and in different parts of the thorax. It couldn’t have been by ingestion,” Soltoski said. Doctors found no signs of outside wounds on the boy. X-ray images carried by Brazilian Web sites clearly showed some of the needles deep inside his body.