top of page

There was a young boy who swallowed a coin ...

What happens when your 5yr old swallows a coin?


This is what happened one fateful Thursday last year. We had a 2yr old crying with a fever, a 3yr old running around screaming “Everyone’s shouting!”, and a father frantically trying to make our 5yr old vomit (which is surprisingly hard to do given how frequently kids vomit when you don’t want them to). This was just what we needed to kick off our morning.

As a doctor you would think I’d have it together, but in this situation my doctor brain shut down and I went into mummy mode. Thoughts were racing through my head – did he swallow it or did he inhale it? Is it stuck? Does he really know what 5 cents is? Maybe it’s 10 cents or even 20 cents? What the heck is he doing putting a coin in his mouth anyway? He should know better! That’s something I’d expect from one of his sisters!

So at 7am I bundled him into the car and endured the 45 minute drive to the hospital in peak hour traffic. The entire trip he was rubbing his chest and complaining that it hurt to breathe, but just when the nurse calls us over, he perked up and looked fine. He said to the nurse, “I’m ok. I swallowed a coin. It only hurts a little bit.” Argh! It was enough to drive me insane. I was thinking worst case scenario and he was having a great time. He got to tell his story over and over again, be examined by 3 nurses, 2 doctors and a medical student, plus watch TV on a school day and have a "cool xray". From his point of view, the only downfall was missing breakfast.

4hrs later we left the hospital. The coin had passed into the intestines and were told it should pass easily. Crisis averted.

6 days and 2 punnets of blueberries later . . .

“Daddy, daddy I need a glove!”

There at the bottom of the toilet was the coin. The stubborn thing did not flush down the toilet.

And yes, it was 5 cents.

NOTE: If your child has swallowed a button battery (from a watch, hearing aid or calculator) or magnets you should seek urgent medical care. Button batteries can erode through the gut lining in less than 2hrs. Please read The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne fact sheet Swallowed (Ingested) foreign bodies for further information.


Related Children's Books

There was an old lady

A lovely illustrated version of the classic tale of an old lady who swallowed a fly.

There was an old sailor by Clare Saxby & Cassandra Allen

A funny twist on the tale 'There was an old lady who swallowed a fly'. The old sailor swallows a krill which makes him ill then tries to fix his bellyache by eating each animal in the sea.


Useful Links

Poison Information Hotline

Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon

Subscribe for the latest news

bottom of page