Health

Girl Who Swallowed Battery Fighting For Her Life

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The life of a 2-year-old girl from Derby, England, was in danger after she swallowed a lithium "button" battery.

Kacie Barradell, the daughter of Cheryl Bell, cannot eat or drink and must be fed through a tube because the battery has caused so much damage to her esophagus, the Derby Telegraph reports.

"I'm going through hell and back," Cheryl said. "Kacie might not walk properly again for the rest of her life. She is recovering now and getting there."

In February, Cheryl took Kacie to the hospital when the child was suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. A few days later, doctors realized she had swallowed a button battery after an X-ray was performed because her condition had deteriorated and she could not breathe properly.

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The battery was removed, but one week later Kacie began vomiting blood. The battery had damaged her esophagus, and two main arteries in her back which made it so she could not walk correctly. A six-hour surgery was performed to address the problems.

Doctors said that Kacie had a 40 percent chance of not surviving, and a 50/50 chance on whether she would be paralyzed from the waist down.

Kacie may be in Birmingham Children's Hospital for at least a month, undergoing treatment. She may also require a second surgery.

Cheryl wants other parents to know the dangers of batteries, and said the girl "is lucky she survived."

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"She could have died and she would have if it hadn't been for [Birmingham Children's Hospital]. ... Button batteries are so dangerous," she said.

Kacie swallowed a battery from a car key.

"Button batteries should be treated like poison and kept out of reach of children," Kate Cross, a consultant neonatal and pediatric surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, told BBC News.

She explained that if the battery is enveloped by the mucus of the esophagus, it "creates an electrical circuit and the battery starts to function, releasing an alkali which is like caustic soda, which can erode through the wall to the windpipe."

If the battery faces a different way, "it can burn into the aorta, a major blood vessel, and there have been cases in Britain where the child has bled to death. ... That is why it is important to get the message out to parents but also other health professionals because this is a time critical problem," Cross said.

Button batteries may be found in toys and car keys, among other things. 

"As more and more electronic items are introduced into the family home, the potential for children to swallow button batteries increases, and this can lead to choking or poisoning," Sheila Merrill, public health advisor for RoSPA, told the Derby Telegraph.

Sources: Derby Telegraph, BBC News / Photo credit: Cheryl Bell via Derby Telegraph

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