It was a regular evening for Jamie-Leigh. She was babysitting her two-year sister, Harper-Lee, when she noticed that her head “suddenly went backward.” Soon after Harper began vomiting blood.
“(Harper) She wasn’t responding. She just went very wheezy, her eyes just closed and she couldn’t talk back to me – like she wasn’t there,” Jamie-Leigh told BBC Breakfast.
In the tragic accident that took place last month on May 23, Harper-Lee’s curiosity took the better of her. But her death also raised an alarm about battery poisoning in children. Here’s what transpired that fateful night.
Harper-Lee Died Of Battery Poisoning, Calling Out Her Mum
Image courtesy: BBC
Soon after Harper-Lee began vomiting, Jamie-Leigh called the ambulance. Sure enough one arrived and Harper was rushed to Royal Stoke University Hospital, in the UK. She was taken into the operation theatre, and since she lost a lot of blood, she was even given 2 litres additional.
Unfortunately, she breathed her last, with “Mummy, I need you” as her parting words.
It was later found that the two-year-old Harper-Lee died just hours after swallowing button batteries that she retrieved from the remote. The acid from the button battery had filled her food pipe and passed into a major artery.
“We didn’t know the dangers of button batteries”
Image courtesy: Pixabay
The devastating news of her death was shared with Harper’s family. They were also informed that the little one had swallowed a button battery and she died from cardiac arrhythmia during surgery.
Her mum, Stacey, later found a remote control in her daughter’s bedroom, with a missing button battery. And she joined the missing dots together. She told BBC that these button batteries can be found everywhere. From the kid’s toys to their books.
Stacey emotionally admitted that they were not aware of the dangers of button batteries.
The pain of her daughter’s sudden demise is unbearable, but Stacey decided to share her story with other parents. She said, “It’s about awareness. If I can save one child or a hundred, then I’ve promised my baby I’ve done what I’ve done.”
While Harpers death is tragic, it has become a turning point in raising awareness about batter poising in children.
Battery Poisoning: Symptoms & Treatment
If you have a small child at home, be mindful to check every corner to identify any products that may contain button batteries. Children are curious by nature and its quite possible that one misstep to childproof your house may turn tragic. Which is why it is important to be armed with the right information.
Where are button batteries found?
Button batteries can be found in games, calculators, remote controls, cameras, watches, musical greetings cards, and many other electronic items, including some toys.
Symptoms of battery poisoning
When a child ingests a button battery, you may not spot symptoms or sometimes it can be similar to that of a common infection. Alternatively, it could also lead to a fatal accident. This is what makes it more challenging for health care professionals.
When a child swallows a battery, it reacts with saliva and the tissue of the oesophagus. It then creates a hydroxide-rich, alkaline solution that essentially dissolves tissue.
When the battery is placed in the oesophagus: In this case, the oesophagus as well as the windpipe, lungs, and large blood vessels can be damaged. This can give rise to an immediate life-threatening emergency due to excessive bleeding caused by blood vessel damage. In fact, survivors may suffer from a lifelong disabilities as well.
When a button battery is placed in the ear or the nose: There can be extensive damage to structures such as the eardrum and nasal septum. The infection due to battery poisoning can lead to permanent breathing, hearing, or a smell disability.
A team of ENT specialists recently shared that eating honey after swallowing a button battery has the potential to reduce serious injuries in small children. According to their research, honey may significantly reduce morbidity and deaths from batteries.
However, you should always consult your paediatrician before ingesting honey or resorting to any other home remedies. And, without wasting further time, rush your child to the emergency ward.
Treatment of battery poisoning
An x-ray will be able to determine that a button battery is stuck inside the body. If it is, then urgent removal is the only treatment. The aim would be to limit any further damage to the surrounding tissues.
A child who has ingested a battery will need to go for regular follow-ups and there could also be delayed complications.
Tips To Avoid Battery Poisoning Accidents At Home
Image courtesy: iStock
Don’t keep loose and spare batteries within the reach of your children.
Regularly check on toys and remote controls to see if the batteries are securely screwed or if they have fallen off.
When you are opening new toys, do so carefully because there could be a spare toy inside the package.
Mums and dads, also be aware of symptoms such as drooling and coughing up blood, or if your child continues to point towards the throat. Stay safe and alert because in most cases, you may not see the child with the actual battery, which means a delayed diagnosis and even greater injury!