RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - A 2-year-old Brazilian boy was recovering well Sunday and receiving support from across the country after surgery to remove sewing needles allegedly pushed into his body by his stepfather, a hospital official said.
The child faces additional surgeries - beginning Wednesday at the earliest - to remove more of the dozens of needles that remain in his body, said Suzy Moreno, a spokeswoman for Hospital Ana Nery in the northeastern city of Salvador.
Moreno said hundreds of people across Brazil are contacting the hospital to inquire about the boy.
"Many people are coming by to bring Christmas presents," she said. "Many are also calling us to express their outrage. ... The support has been incredible."
Surgeons removed four of the needles - those considered most life-threatening - from one of the boy's lungs and near his heart during a nearly five-hour operation on Friday. The needles were up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) long, Moreno said.
Needles will be removed from his abdomen and spine in upcoming surgeries.
Authorities say 30-year-old bricklayer Roberto Carlos Magalhaes confessed to sticking the boy with needles because his lover told him it would keep them together. Police believe the lover, Angelina Ribeiro dos Santos, was really seeking revenge on Magalhaes' wife by having him hurt her son.
The bricklayer told detectives that dos Santos would enter into trances and give him commands to insert the needles, police inspector Helder Fernandes Santana said. The stepfather told police the rituals happened every few days for a full month, with him inserting several needles during each session.
Magalhaes and dos Santos were both arrested, though no charges had been filed as of Sunday. The two were taken to an undisclosed location for their own protection after a mob threw stones at the police station where they were being held.
Dos Santos is not believed to be a member of any religious or occult group, and authorities believe she came up with the idea on her own, Santana said.
The boy's mother, a maid, took him to a hospital in Ibotirama, about 400 miles (650 kilometers) west of Salvador, on Dec. 10, saying he was complaining of pain. After X-rays revealed the source, he was transferred to Salvador's much larger hospital. His name is not being released because of his age.
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