RIO DE JANEIRO - A Brazilian toddler was awake and breathing on his own yesterday after doctors removed four life-threatening sewing needles from around one of his lungs and his heart, but he was likely to face more surgery in coming days, a hospital director said.

The 2-year-old boy - who police say had dozens of the needles stuck deep into his body by his stepfather in a bizarre ritual - remains in intensive care after his operation Friday, and the next two days are critical to his recovery, Roque Aras, medical director of the Ana Nery Hospital, said in the northeastern city of Salvador.

"The next step will be a surgery on the abdomen, to remove needles that are in the bladder and intestines," Aras said. "A third [surgery] will be to remove a needle that is in the spine."

Aras said the needles removed so far were rusty, which increases chances of infection. The next operation will likely be tomorrow or Tuesday.

Police say bricklayer Roberto Carlos Magalhaes, 30, confessed to pushing the needles into the child because, he said, his lover told him to while she was in trances. The rituals, performed over a month, were supposedly aimed at keeping the couple together.

The child underwent nearly five hours of surgery Friday to remove the four needles, which were up to 2 inches long.

Dozens more remain in his body.