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Warning for Parents: 'A Button Battery Killed My Son'

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The accidental swallowing of coin-sized lithium "button batteries" (which are found in many common household products) is a rapidly mounting threat to children, Health Day reports. A pair of new studies reveals that between 1985 and 2009, the risk that an American child will experience a serious health complication after ingesting a button battery has increased nearly sevenfold. Momlogic spoke with Michelle Truett, a mom of three who lost her baby after he swallowed a button battery. Now she wants to warn other moms about this hidden danger.

Michelle Truett: My 1-year-old boy, Aidan, passed away on November 22, 2009. Unbeknownst to us, he had swallowed a button battery.

Aidan had just turned 1 in October, and had always been a very healthy child. (I have two other kids -- ages 9 and 4.) In mid-November, he showed signs of having the flu; he was not holding any food down. I took him to the doctor, and he said Aidan had a viral infection and sent us home.

But he was not getting better -- he was getting worse. We took him back the next day and said we thought he had swallowed something. They did an X-ray of his stomach, but didn't find anything.

The next day, he had increased saliva and was so congested, so we took him for a second opinion. They didn't find anything.

We just knew something was wrong. We went to five or six doctor's appointments in a week and a half. We kept saying, "We think he has swallowed something." Exactly one week after the first X-ray, they did another one -- and found a button battery in his stomach.

We have no idea where Aidan got the battery. We checked all the toys and remotes in our house and in his babysitter's house, and none were missing. I guess we'll never know where he got it.

Surgery to remove the battery was done on the 19th. They removed it successfully and said everything would be OK. They didn't see any signs of irritation or anything.

Aidan came home that evening without any complications, but still had the congestion. They said that was from his viral respiratory infection.

Two days later, on Saturday night around 9:45 PM, I heard Aidan coughing in his crib. I ran up to find him sitting up in his crib completely covered in blood.

I'm a nurse, so I took him downstairs and swiped his mouth. It was full of blood clots. My baby boy was hemorrhaging.

Aidan had gone into cardiac arrest. I started CPR. He was then transported to the ER and airlifted to the local children's hospital. Nobody was ever able to revive him, despite several hours of advanced cardiac life support.

After four hours of trying, there was nothing more that could be done. My son was pronounced dead at 2:30 AM on Sunday, November 22nd.

We had an autopsy, because we had a feeling his death had to do with the battery. I was told after the autopsy that an erosion was found in his esophagus leading to the aorta. We are assuming this was from the battery ingestion.

I feel that if they could have found the battery sooner -- when we first brought him to the doctor -- this could have had a different outcome. A full week passed between our first and second X-rays. The button probably sat inside his esophagus for quite some time in order for it to erode like it did. You would have thought they would have seen something when they went in to remove the button battery from his stomach.

Now I am trying to get the word out to other mothers about the dangers of button batteries. I hope I can even spare one parent this pain. We had a perfect child one minute, and the next minute he was gone.

Keep button batteries out of reach of children. Treat them as if they are dangerous medications. Don't leave them lying around for any reason. You never know if your kids or if your kids' friends will get ahold of them. They're tiny disks, and they're shiny, so they're appealing to babies and toddlers. They come in singing greeting cards, watches and handheld games. A lot of toys for kids have them. You have to be so careful.

My message for medical professionals is to listen to the parents. I'm a mom who doesn't take her kids to the doctor for every little thing. But I was at the doctor six times in a week and a half because I knew something was wrong. I feel like they kind of brushed me off a bit. I'm not the kind of person who wants to blame, but I hope they can take this as a learning experience.

I really feel it is necessary to get my story out there to prevent any more tragedies like this. Hospitals, doctors and parents need to understand the life-threatening danger of these batteries.

Please forward this story to other moms you know. If we can help save another life, it's like Aidan will live on in some way.


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