Teen hospitalized over little known grilling hazard

Teen hospitalized after swallowing barbecue grill brush bristle.
Teen hospitalized after swallowing barbecue grill brush bristle.

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SEATTLE, Washington – It’s often viewed as one of the first signs of summer – a backyard barbecue.  Now, a little known grilling hazard has re-surfaced, and even sent a local teen to the hospital.

Sixteen-year-old Tristin Beck and his family grilled out almost two weeks ago, on a Sunday evening.

By the following Wednesday, he started to feel sick.

“I just remember being in school on Wednesday and just feeling like I  was being stabbed in the stomach,” he said.

His mother took him to the clinic on Friday, after two days of almost non-stop vomiting.

On Saturday, they went straight to the emergency room at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“It was crazy, they admitted us to the ER and started doing all these tests,” said Tristin’s father, Steven Beck.

It wasn’t until doctors performed an exploratory surgery that they were able to determine what was wrong.

They spotted a foreign object that had perforated his intestines: a single metal bristle from a grilling brush.

“I’ve been a pediatric surgeon for 11 yrs and I’ve seen a lot of different bodies swallowed and ingested both purposely and accidentally, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like this,” said Dr. John Meehan.

The piece of wire brush was so small it didn’t show up in x-rays.

Perhaps even scarier, says Tristin’s family, is that it could happen to anyone.

“You just don’t think about it,” said Steven.  “We’re barbecuing all the time, even in the winter.”

As we head into the summer season when grilling is even more popular, the Beck family wanted to share their story to make sure others know about this potential risk.

They have already thrown out their grilling brush.

The CDC put out a warning on this very same issue just last summer, but Tristin’s case is proof it’s still happening.

It’s recommended you check the manual of any grill you own, to make sure you are using the correct type of brush.  If it is a brush with metal or wire bristles, you should replace it often, and inspect it before each use.  Look for broken or loose bristles that could fall off and attach to food being cooked on the grill.

Tristin will likely remain in the hospital until the end of the week while his stomach continues to heal, but he is expected to make a full recovery.

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