A two-year-old girl is lucky to be alive after going to the hospital for tummy ache – only for doctors to find a life-threatening battery lodged in her throat.
Little Elsie-Rose was so close to death that her mum, Kirsty Duffy, was told to give her “one last kiss” before she underwent an operation to remove it.
It turned out Elsie-Rose had swallowed a dangerous penny-sized lithium battery within the last 24 hours.
At first medics thought it could be a penny, but a further x-ray revealed a battery had become lodged in the top of her oesophagus, located around the chest area.
Doctors at Sheffield Childrens’ Hospital, South Yorks., told her it was critical as the electrical current was mixing with saliva to produce caustic soda, rapidly burning a hole in her throat.
Swallowed batteries can cause catastrophic internal bleeding and death within hours and Kirsty was told it needed to come out immediately.
Elsie-Rose was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary for emergency surgery.
Kirsty said: “The surgeons told me her chances of survival were like her walking across a motorway without getting hit by a car or lorry. I couldn’t believe it.
“They told me to give her ‘one last kiss’ and although I was devastated and in shock at the time, I just did my best to be strong for her.”
The surgeon who operated on Elsie-Rose, managing to remove the battery with minimal damage, told single mum Kirsty her little girl was “lucky to survive something she should not have survived”.
Throughout, mum-of-four Kirsty was so overcome with adrenaline that it was only when she arrived home to Barnsley, South Yorks., after spending five days in intensive care, that she burst into tears.
Full-time mum Kirsty said: “I can’t believe I nearly lost my little girl. This could have had a very different outcome.
“I could have been arriving home without her. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Bright Elsie-Rose had been suffering with tummy ache for several months and Kirsty had visited her doctors a few times, each time being told Elsie had an infection.
But when Elsie-Rose’s condition deteriorated after having problems eating, Kirsty demanded a hospital appointment, scheduled for August 29.
Kirsty said: “Elsie-Rose was gradually getting worse, she is very bright so had often told me ‘Elsie’s poorly’.
“On the night before her appointment she had said ‘Elsie feeling sick’ but I just put it down to the continuing problem – which turned out to be constipation – I did not know she had swallowed a battery.
“It was by a stroke of absolute luck that her hospital appointment was the next day.”
Kirsty has no idea where Elsie-Rose had picked up the battery from, thinking it could be from any number of toys owned by her brothers and sisters, Bradley Bird, 12, Amelia Duffy, seven, and Alissia Duffy, six.
“She’s not the type of toddler who puts items in her mouth usually so I didn’t know what had happened,” said Kirsty.
“In no way would I have thought batteries would be a good thing to swallow, but never would I have thought that it could kill a child.
“It is so important that parents keep these out of reach of children.”
Elsie-Rose is now on medication to heal her throat and she is expected to make a full recovery.
Kirsty said: “We are still having to sort out her other problem, though eating really soft food, to help her throat, has helped her a lot.
“She seems back to her normal self, which is such a relief to see.”
Mike Thomson, Consultant Paediatrician specialising in gastroenterology at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Button batteries are incredibly dangerous and can cause severe injury within hours of young children swallowing them.
“There has been a rise in children across the UK being injured as a result of button battery ingestion.
“The easy to open packaging for these buttons and their use in toys means that parents and carers often aren’t aware if a child has access to them.
“We recommend that any button battery is safely secured within the toy or item or kept out of reach from children.
“If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery then you must seek immediate medical attention either at a local emergency department or paediatric hospital so that it can be removed.”
Batteries can be found in toys, remote controls, car keys, musical greetings cards, calculators and weighing scales.
Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust said: “Elsie-Rose has had a miraculous escape.
“If a lithium coin cell battery gets stuck in a child’s food pipe, it can cause catastrophic internal bleeding and death within hours of being swallowed.
“Symptoms often aren’t obvious until it’s too late, which is why a battery can go undetected for so long.
“That’s why it’s so important to know where powerful lithium coin cell batteries are in your home – in products as well as spare and ‘flat’ batteries – and keep them well out of reach of small children.”