17-Month-Old Baby Girl Almost Dies After Swallowing Detergent Capsule

| by Jonathan Constante
Jenny MaherJenny Maher

An Ireland couple is warning parents about the dangers of leaving detergents around the house after their 17-month-old daughter was almost killed by eating a washing machine capsule.

Sarah and Colin Maher were told their baby girl is lucky to be alive. Baby Jenny had bit into a liquid tablet she found in a Surf box that was stored under the sink at the family’s Dunleer home, the Irish Mirror reported.

Jenny swallowed half the tablet’s contents and was rushed to the hospital. Doctor’s said that had it not been for Sarah’s completed first aid course covering poisonings, Jenny might not have made it.

“It was very serious and very scary,” Colin told the Irish mirror. “Her airways had closed up, [if we hadn't] got her to the hospital so soon she wouldn’t be with us today."

Jenny was immediately put on a ventilator and within an hour, she was sent to a hospital in Dublin in a critical care ambulance.

“She was brought to Temple Street and remained in the intensive care unit for a week with a nurse with her 24/7,” Colin said. “She had to be sedated and was on nine different medications, including morphine, a relaxant, steroids, antibiotics and a drip.

Jenny stayed at Temple Street for two weeks and was finally sent back to Lourdes for discharge on Nov. 5. Colin and Sarah, who have three other children aged 4 to 9, are now warning other parents to keep dangerous detergents out of their children’s reach.

A poisons expert told Colin that up to 200 kids swallow dishwasher or other tablets every year, reports the Irish Mirror.

"They reckon Jenny was the worst case they’ve come across,” Colin said. “A lot of these tablets look like sweets, they are bright colored and look encouraging to kids so people need to be aware to keep them out of reach."

A spokesperson for Unilever, the manufacturer of Surf, issued the following statement regarding the incident:

“We are extremely concerned about this incident and are very glad to hear that Jenny has recovered. Safety is our number one priority and we are committed to minimizing the risk of accidents involving detergent capsules through measures such as fitting boxes with specific closure systems, making the packaging less appealing to children and adding a bitter substance to limit ingestion. It is also essential that parents keep such products out of the reach of children and to support this we are taking part in the Keep Caps From Kids campaign and have made the on-pack safety information very prominent.”

Sources: Irish Mirror, Daily Mirror / Photo credit: Irish Mirror