Health

Toddler Swallows Button Battery, Dies 2 Days After Christmas

| by Nik Bonopartis
Brianna FlorerBrianna Florer

Brianna Florer's grandparents were shocked when the toddler began spitting up blood.

On the day after Christmas, the 2-year-old's grandparents told the Oklahoman, little Brianna was happy, opening presents and playing with her older brother and two sisters.

But on Dec. 27, the toddler began spitting up blood and her skin turned blue. Brianna was rushed to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she died despite doctors' best efforts to save her. An x-ray revealed the mysterious cause of Brianna's death -- a button battery, which doctors say the toddler swallowed within a week of her dramatic death.

“One minute she is perfect, and the next minute she is dead,” Kent Vice, the girl's maternal grandfather, told the Oklahoman. “We had no idea when she swallowed" the battery.

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Button batteries, also called button cells, are tiny batteries as small as 5 mm in diameter, usually found in devices like watches, calculators and LED flashlights. The batteries are small enough to escape the notice of adults, and can be fatal if swallowed by children.

Most of the time button cells pass through the digestive tract, Oklahoma Poison Control Center's Randy Badillo told the Oklahoman.

“But, if the battery lodges in the esophagus or digestive tract, it can open and release an alkaline substance that can cause corrosive or burning injuries,” Badillo said.

The damage to a child's body "is as poisonous as putting drain cleaner in you toddler's favorite sippy cup," according to Michael and Karla Rauch, who started the awareness website Emmett's Fight after their son nearly died from swallowing one of the batteries. Emmett, who was just a year old at the time, suffered through 14 surgeries in the year after swallowing the battery.

Emmett swallowed the battery while playing with a remote control, Karla told TIME magazine.

There were 11,940 reported cases of children younger than 6 swallowing batteries between 2005 and 2014, according to the National Capitol Poison Center. More than 100 of those children suffered major medical complications, and 15 died.

In Oklahoma, the local medical examiner's office said an autopsy is pending. It could take up to four months for examiners to provide an official cause of death, according to the Oklahoman.

In the meantime, Brianna's family is asking for help covering the little girl's funeral expenses. Donors had contributed more than $1,500 on a gofundme page as of Jan. 1.

“She never — not one time — had a bad day,” an emotional Vice told the Oklahoman. “She was always happy and laughing.

Sources: The Oklahoman, Emmett's Fight, TIME / Photo source: Facebook via Daily Mail