RIVER EDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Think twice before you put the metal to the barbeque this grilling season.
A New Jersey man's brush with death last week was apparently due to a grilling tool.
Michael DeStefan went to Hackensack University Medical Center thinking he had appendicitis after experiencing excruciating pain in his stomach.
WCBS 880's Sean Adams reports
Doctors conducted tests and found a 1½-inch-long metallic object had pierced the 54-year-old's large intestine. They thought he had swallowed a nail, fish hook or paper.
"It looked like it could've been a nail, even though it didn't really have quite the characteristics of a nail," Dr. Sanjeev Kaul told CBS 2's Don Dahler.
"The guy walks out of the room, sticks his head back in and says, 'did you eat a nail?' So I look around, I say, 'what did he say?' He said did you eat a nail? I said, 'no, I didn't eat a nail.' 'Did you eat a paperclip? A fishhook?' I look at my wife. I say 'my stomach's killing me.' I said 'what's with the jokes?' He says, 'I'm not joking,'" DeStefan said.
"It could lead to a multi-system organ failure and possible death," Dr. Kaul said.
DeStefan's wife figured out one of the metal bristles on his grill brush broke off, got stuck to the grill grate and embedded itself in the shell steak her husband had cooked and eaten days before visiting the hospital.
Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove the wire and repair the hole that it made in DeStefan's large intestine.
"There was an infection, they just didn't know how big the infection was, or how much of a hole it had torn inside my intestines, and they didn't know that until they went in," DeStefan said. "When I went under he told me I have to do this immediately, because we don't know what we're going to find, and there's a chance that you might not make it.
DeStefan is hoping his brush with death serves as a warning to others.
"I hope no one will have to go through that," DeStefan said. "I want people to be aware of the fact that something as simple and innocent as going outside and grilling steaks and hamburgers for your family and friends could potentially be life-threatening."
The Record reports half a dozen similar cases have been documented in Rhode Island.
DeStefan has since ditched the brush and instead uses a stone to clean the grill.
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