Ingested Shotgun Pellets Accumulated in the Appendix of 8-Year-Old

A bizarre medical case out of Australia called for the appendix of an 8-year-old boy to removed after it was discovered to be filled with shotgun pellets.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, an 8-year-old boy was admitted to the hospital in Darwin, Australia with elevated levels of lead. An examination led to the discovery that the child’s appendix was packed with shotgun pellets, and had to be removed. A total of 57 lead pellets were found in the removed organ which weighed over 5 times the normal weight.

The entire family reported that they regularly ate geese that were killed with lead pellets from a shotgun, and the children reported that they had been eating the pellets as part of a game to make them disappear.

It sounds like that the kids were eating the pellets instead of spitting them out on the plate like most hunters do when they encounter a piece of shot in some meat.

The story first appeared on Facebook and I initially had my doubts, but after checking the sources it checks out and I discovered that this is not an isolated occurrence. A similar case happened in 2015.

A 45-year-old male presented to our clinic suffering from a four-month history of abdominal pain. Further questioning revealed that he had eaten hunted rabbit meat on numerous occasions and unintentionally ingested three lead pellets.

“In the United States, more than 100,000 patients annually are seen following the ingestion of foreign bodies.” the journal stated, “The localization of foreign bodies within the appendix is rare, with an estimated incidence of 0.0005%.”

I would not let the risk of accidently swallowing a pellet stop me from eating wild game, but I would not do it on purpose like the 8-year-old from the story.