Swallowed battery burns hole through toddler’s lung

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"The acid inside the battery had burned through her oesophagus and then it burned though her lung as well"

English mother Clare Skill did not know at first what was happening. She had left her daughter Sophie on the living room to play, and the next time she saw her daughter she was crying hysterically.

"She was crying excessively like I had never heard before, and she was holding the back of her neck," Clare Skill said.

When she did not stop, Clare immediately knew something had gone wrong, that her daughter had swallowed something. So they rushed to the hospital, where an X-ray revealed a small lithium battery inside Sophie.

In two hours the acid inside the battery had burned through her oesophagus and then it burned though her lung as well. Her lung had deflated, allowing fluids inside.

The doctors were able to remove the battery, but because her food pipe was swollen they did not detect the hole in the lung.

"After a week, she had a CT scan and it showed the hole wasn't healing and was in fact getting bigger because the acid was continuing to corrode her oesophagus," said Clare.

Sophie was put under general anaesthetic at least eight times during her eight weeks in hospital, three of those were spent in the ICU.

READ: Toddler chokes to death after swallowing Kinder egg toy

To cover the hole, the doctors took tissue from Sophie’s side to allow it to heal.

Two months later, after her throat healed, Sophie was allowed to leave the hospital. But now she has to take an alkaline tablet to make sure her road to recovery is smooth.

The battery came from a pack the full-time mother had bought because her husband, Wayne Skill, needed to replace a battery in his car fob.

"She's obviously managed to get hold of one in the packet, it was brand new and hadn't been used," said Clare.

Choking prevention

Small children are tactile beings; they simply want to hold things, and then put them in their mouths. There’s not much we can do about that.

What we can do is to minimise the things that they get in contact with, especially when they start crawling, at which point almost everything can be a choking hazard.

Make sure you keep an eye out for these things, moms: Coins, marbles, toys with small parts, toys that can be compressed to fit entirely into a child’s mouth, pen or marker caps, small balls, button batteries, hair barrettes and beads.

Before they begin to crawl, get down to your child’s level and look for things that could be picked up, then check in and under furniture cushions. Also make sure your children’s toys are always safely put away. Store toys for younger children separate from those for older children.

If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below.