A 2-year-old Brazilian boy was recovering nicely Sunday and receiving support from across the country after surgery to remove sewing needles his stepfather confessed to pushing into him, a hospital official said.
The child faces additional surgery, probably in the next couple of days, 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.
Police said the boy's stepfather has confessed to pushing the needles into the boy at the behest of his lover in an odd ritual aimed at keeping the couple together.
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.
Police say 30-year-old bricklayer Roberto Carlos Magalhaes confessed to sticking the boy with needles because his lover told him to while she was in trances. The rituals were performed over the course of a month.
Police say they believe the lover, Angelina Ribeiro dos Santos, told Magalhaes the ritual would keep them together, but that she 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 her hometown 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.