A mother shared an emotional account of her toddler’s ordeal to warn other parents after he swallowed a button battery, a small but mighty danger.
Ashley Mendez took to Facebook on March 5 and posted her story. “The last time I held my 20-month-old son and saw his eyes open was at 9pm on 3/3 as he was taken from my arms screaming and crying,” she wrote.
Ashley’s son, Adrian, was rushed into surgery to remove a foreign object from his throat. Medics had initially suspected that the object was a nickel, but it turned out to be much more serious.
“It started as a normal night,” Ashley said. “My husband was outside grilling burgers while I was cooking food … in a split second our night changed, as our son knocked on the glass door proudly showing his daddy what he had in his mouth.”
Ashley’s husband, Hector, jumped up to retrieve the object from his son’s mouth but Adrian was just as fast; he swallowed it. Ashley, a nurse, assessed her son for signs of choking.
Adrian seemed fine until, all of a sudden, he began to cry, gag, and vomit. The couple rushed their son to hospital emergency.
An X-ray showed a coin-shaped object in Adrian’s throat, and the removal procedure sounded simple. “[W]e’d be able to go home that night,” Ashley wrote. “No big deal.”
But a second presurgery X-ray at the nearby children’s hospital revealed an alarming result. The surgeons could see that the “nickel” was, in fact, a button battery. Suddenly, the toddler’s prognosis changed.
“[I]mmediately it hit me,” Ashley recalled. “My food scale. We were weighing our food as we cooked and somehow my son got ahold of it … I remember my mother-in-law yelling at him and removing it from him. But we didn’t think to look for the battery.”
The boy was rushed to the operating room. After a two-hour-long procedure, the worried parents received news that the battery had been successfully removed.
“The surgeons were reassuring,” Ashley explained, “the battery was removed after 5 hours of ingestion so minimal damage occurred, but we wouldn’t know the extent of damage until the MRI 24 hours later.”
The battery’s charge had contacted the blood vessel behind Adrian’s esophagus, boring a hole in his throat. Then, fluids had leaked into the hole and caused an infection. After the battery’s removal, the toddler was sedated, intubated, and given both pain medication and antibiotics. She said he was on the “better end of the ‘horrible scale.’”
“My son’s life has changed so much because of this tiny battery,” she reflected. “He will no longer be able to eat or drink through his mouth until this hole heals … We will be under constant monitoring … our journey doesn’t end once we leave the hospital.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that roughly 2,500 children swallow button batteries every single year. Anyone who ingests a battery should be assessed at a hospital as quickly as possible, but there is a clever at-home remedy that can help alleviate the severity of the injuries sustained in the meantime: honey.
“Our recommendation would be for parents and caregivers to give honey at regular intervals before a child is able to reach a hospital,” said Dr. Ian N. Jacobs of the Center for Pediatric Airway Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Safely ingesting any amount of [honey] prior to battery removal is better than doing nothing.”
Ashley made the decision to share her son’s story knowing that button batteries are used in numerous everyday household items, as well as children’s toys. “I never knew anything could happen quite like this,” she added, “not until it actually happened.
“Please share this story with all your friends and family, so our precious little children don’t have to go through what not only my son is currently going through but many other children as well.”
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