She Swal­lowed A Bat­tery

Ch­eryl’s tod­dler was left fight­ing for her life with in­ter­nal burns KA­CIE SPENT SIX WEEKS IN HOS­PI­TAL FOR MORE TREAT­MENT ACID BURNED THROUGH HER STOM­ACH

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My two-year-old daugh­ter Ka­cie climbed onto my lap for a cud­dle.

‘What’s wrong, sweetie?’ I asked as she buried her head in my chest.

She had not been her usual bub­bly self all morn­ing.

Later that day, she started throw­ing up and hav­ing bad di­ar­rhoea. I thought she just had a tummy bug.

Our GP agreed, and pre­scribed a course of an­tibi­otics. But, a few days on, I found Ka­cie strug­gling to breathe. Try­ing not to panic, I rushed her straight to Derby Hos­pi­tal.

‘It’s prob­a­bly pneu­mo­nia,’ a con­sul­tant told me.

Ka­cie was taken for an X-ray.

Sick with worry, I stayed with my lit­tle girl all night as we waited for the re­sults.

Then, at 3am, a doc­tor came to speak to me.

‘Ka­cie’s swal­lowed a bat­tery,’ she ex­plained.

It was a small but­ton bat­tery, the size of a 10p piece.

My mind raced. How on earth had she got her lit­tle mitts on one of those bat­ter­ies? And then it clicked… There were a cou­ple of lithium cell bat­ter­ies in a kitchen drawer at home. I’d had a few spares left over from when I changed the one on my set of car keys.

I’d thought that they were tucked safely out of harm’s way.

But I re­alised that Ka­cie must have some­how got the drawer open when my back was turned and mis­taken them for sweets.

Ut­terly dis­traught, I couldn’t hold it to­gether. ‘Is she go­ing to be OK?’ I sobbed. I knew swal­low­ing a bat­tery was dan­ger­ous, and I wor­ried about the dam­age it might do to her poor in­sides. Ka­cie soon un­der­went a short pro­ce­dure to re­move the bat­tery, and doc­tors be­lieved she would be OK. ‘You had a lucky es­cape, young lady,’ I told her, so re­lieved she was OK. Once we were back at home, I watched Ka­cie, her sis­ter Layla, five, and brother Joshua,three, like a hawk. A sin­gle mum, I had to have eyes in the back of my head. ‘You mustn’t put strange things in your mouth,’ I lec­tured them all. Then, two weeks later, Ka­cie sud­denly started throw­ing up blood

with clots in it. Panic set in. I rushed her straight to hos­pi­tal, from where she was trans­ferred to Birm­ing­ham Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal for spe­cial­ist care.

There, tests re­vealed that the acid from the bat­tery had burned through her stom­ach and dam­aged ar­ter­ies at the bot­tom of her back and oe­soph­a­gus.

Ka­cie needed emer­gency re­pair surgery. But it was so risky, there was a 40 per cent chance that Ka­cie wouldn’t sur­vive the op­er­a­tion. And, even if she did, there was a 50 per cent chance she could be paral­ysed from the waist down.

With­out the surgery, though, Ka­cie could die from her in­ter­nal in­juries caused by the bat­tery.

‘Just do what you have to do to save my baby,’ I begged doc­tors.

The six and a half hours that she was in surgery were com­plete tor­ture for me. When I got the news that she was OK, I felt like I could breathe again.

Not only had my lit­tle girl sur­vived – in­cred­i­bly, she hadn’t been paral­ysed.

‘I can’t thank you enough,’ I told her sur­geon, Dr Oliver Gee.

Ka­cie re­cov­ered amaz­ingly well fol­low­ing the op­er­a­tion.

In the weeks after, she learned to walk again and was on a liq­uid feed.

Fi­nally, after six weeks, she was al­lowed home.

She’s able to eat nor­mally again now, but she doesn’t have much of an ap­petite which I hope will change in time.

She’s hav­ing phys­io­ther­apy now, as the dam­age to her lower back has caused her legs to bow.

And she needs more checks on her oe­soph­a­gus, as there’s a chance it may have nar­rowed. Ka­cie is so lucky the bat­tery acid didn’t burn her in­sides com­pletely, though. I’ve since been told by the hos­pi­tal that she’s one of only two chil­dren in the world to have sur­vived swal­low­ing a but­ton bat­tery. I find the thought of how close I ac­tu­ally came to los­ing my baby ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fy­ing.

Hope­fully, other par­ents can learn from Ka­cie’s story and keep all bat­ter­ies locked away out of reach of their chil­dren.

Ka­cie is one of the lucky ones, but the next child might not be so for­tu­nate.

I find the thought of how close I came to los­ing her ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fy­ing.

Hope­fully, other par­ents can learn from Ka­cie’s story: Keep all bat­ter­ies locked away and well out of reach of lit­tle fin­gers.

Ka­cie is one of the lucky ones, but the next child might not be so for­tu­nate.

Ka­cie started throw­ing up blood

I came so close to los­ing her

Ch­eryl Bell, 27, Derby

so re­lieved

On­go­ing treat­ment

Deadly when swal­lowed

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