, RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 17 – Brazilian doctors organized an emergency airlift Thursday for a two-year-old boy who had 42 needles inserted inside him during "black magic" rituals, after two of the slivers were discovered to be piercing his heart.
The boy was flown to a specialist cardiac surgery unit at a hospital in Salvador, the main city in Bahia state, doctors looking after him said.
X-rays earlier showed that the toddler had around 50 needles stuck inside much of his body, including his neck, torso and legs.
A careful examination counted 42 needles, some of them close to — or even piercing — vital organs.
He had been hospitalized there since Sunday, but was being transferred from Barreiras, a town close to the poor village where he lives.
The boy\\\\\\\’s stepfather, Roberto Carlos Magalhaes, a 30-year-old laborer, was arrested Wednesday and confessed to inserting the needles into the boy, one-by-one, during black magic rites, police told AFP.
"He did that for revenge, to get back at his wife. His mistress told him to kill the child through a macabre ritual," the police chief in the boy\\\\\\\’s village of Ibotirama, Helder Fernandes Santana, said.
The Estado news agency reported that Magalhaes took the boy each weekend to the home of a woman named Angelina who ordered the stepfather to plunge the sewing needles into the child.
One of them perforated a lung, causing the child to vomit. When he also complained of stomach pains, his mother, Maria Souza Santos, a 38-year-old maid, took him to the Barreiras hospital.
She said she did not how the needles got into son. But she told reporters she found objects used for black magic ceremonies in her house, including a bottle of cachaca, a common Brazilian rum made from sugar cane.
Alarmed doctors puzzled over how to treat the boy. While they planned to remove the most dangerous of the needles, others, they said, would have to remain inside the body because the risk was too great to get them out.
Late Wednesday, "we discovered that there seem to be two needles in the left ventricle, in the boy\\\\\\\’s heart," the pediatric surgeon at the hospital in Barreiras, Fabio Contelle, told Brazilian television.
"This makes surgery a little more complicated, given that we don\\\\\\\’t have cardiac surgeons here. That\\\\\\\’s why we opted to transfer the boy to a specialized center in Salvador," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Barreiras hospital told AFP the boy had been flown out early Thursday.
The boy, who was not named because of his young age, was conscious but in a "serious" condition, she said