Young Fall River boy rushed to ER after bathing suit gets caught

HALIFAX – A Fall River family is speaking out after their son encountered a hazard while swimming that they never dreamed possible.

On Saturday, 5-year-old Ronan Sinclair was swimming with his younger brother and older sister at their grandmother’s pool in Fall River.

The three kids swam for several hours that afternoon and were changing out of their bathing suits later that day when their aunt, Debbie Snow, heard a terrifying sound.

“I heard Ronan screaming. ‘Auntie Debbie, my pee pee is stuck,’” she said.

It turns out that, while Ronan was swimming, his foreskin had somehow gotten caught in the mesh lining of his swimming trunks.

“I could see part of his penis was through the little tiny hole [of the mesh]. It was swollen. It was about the size of a small baby pea. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do?’”
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Snow frantically called Ronan’s mother and father, who were having a date night, and the pair rushed to the house.

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“The small hole of the mesh in the bathing suit had basically snagged his skin, his foreskin, and that snagged skin had swelled. We couldn’t get it off him at that point,” said mother Michelle Hilchie-Sinclair.

“I never imagined anything like that could possibly happen.”

Hilchie-Sinclair describes Ronan as hysterical, crying and in intense pain.

“I was able to calm him down enough to be able to cut around the mesh, to be able to have just that piece of mesh stuck to him,” she said.

The family rushed Ronan to the emergency room at the IWK, where doctors were able to carefully and delicately cut the five-year-old loose.

Dr. Shannon MacPhee, the chief of emergency medicine at the IWK, said foreskin being trapped in the mesh lining of a bathing suit is exceptionally rare.

“This is a really frightening experience,” she said.

“If a child is on a tube, for example, out on a  lake in the back of a boat and hits the water with some force, that would be a typical story or a fall when you’re wearing your bathing suit. But it usually takes quite a large amount of force for this to happen.”

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MacPhee adds that she has not found any research showing long term consequences to the penis or foreskin as a result of it getting caught.

The only physical reminder of the incident is a small scar but it has left Ronan traumatized — when his mother asked him to put on the swimming trunks he was wearing that day, the little boy screamed ‘No!’

The family is cutting all the mesh lining out of all the boys’ swimming trunks as a precaution.

The hole that was cut to free Ronan from his swimming trunks can be seen. Julia Wong/Global News

Snow said Ronan may have known something was wrong with his bathing suit that day but may not have understood the magnitude of what was happening.

“I said, ‘Ronan, it’s stuck in the mesh’ and he did say, ‘Well that’s probably why it was hurting me earlier,’” she said.

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Hilchie-Sinclair doesn’t know how it happened but she wants other parents to be aware and alert to the possibility it could happen to their children.

“I just think it’s crazy,” she said.

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