A 6-year-old boy is fighting for his life after ingesting lye.
Sonny Arthur of Hatfield Peverel, Essex, England, reportedly thought he was drinking lemonade when he was really ingesting lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, The Daily Mail reports. The lye crystals were in a sparkling water bottle that his mother, Vikki, had been using to clean the bathroom.
Various types of lye are used to create soaps, and sodium hydroxide is specifically used for many hard bar soaps, according to DIY Natural. As it takes the appearance of water when dissolved, lye solutions need to be kept out of reach of children and pets.
While cleaning the shower on Dec. 17, Vikki mixed the lye with water in a sparkling water bottle, The Daily Mail notes. Although she had dumped the remaining liquid down the drain when she finished cleaning, she left the bottle in the bathroom. Ian, Vikki’s husband and Sonny’s father, moved the bottle when he took a shower that day.
“I told him not to go into the bathroom because I had cleaned it but I didn’t say, ‘Don’t touch the bottle,’ and of course he didn’t put two and two together,” Vikki told The Daily Mail. “Why would he?”
After his father’s shower, Sonny saw the water bottle and tried to drink the crystallized liquid left inside. He screamed and ran downstairs as his face began to swell, according to Vikki. After drinking some water, he started to vomit.
"It was the most horrific vomiting I have ever seen," the mother recalled. "It will haunt me for the rest of my life."
Chemical fumes damaged his lungs, and his esophagus was greatly burned. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London tried to prepare the family for the worst.
"[The doctors] said, 'Just to warn you, this is bad,'" Vikki said.
Although he was able to go home by the beginning of January, Sonny will need to be fed through a tube for at least a year and visit the hospital every two weeks due to the scar tissue in his esophagus.
"It’s hard to determine how much scarring there is because they can’t get a camera down there,” Vikki said. “It’s going to be a long, slow journey. He’s a tough little kid. He’s so brave."