Toddler hospitalized for 8 days after button batteries were swallowed

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – The number of children who swallowed batteries rose significantly during the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Increased hospital visits appear to reflect the increase in button or disc battery devices in our homes.

And the batteries that babies swallow are more dangerous than ever.

Like many other toddlers, everything 19-month-old Remi touches goes straight into her mouth. In July, mom Megan Hulleman and dad RJ Hulleman, from Alton, Iowa, couldn’t imagine the next chapter of their lives when Remi found the remote control for the ceiling fan.

“She dropped the fan remote and the two batteries popped out. I [said]’Remi bring them over,’ so she brought them over, and I had put the two batteries up here on our couch,” Megan said.

Before she knew it, Remi had swallowed both button batteries. They took her to the hospital by ambulance: Remi’s esophagus swelled up because the batteries were already corroded and stuck to each other.

“They had to push her back into her stomach because they couldn’t pull her out, and in the process the acid burned her throat,” RJ said.

Pediatric surgeon Adam Gorra was brought in. He said he knew they had to act quickly because acid isn’t the only hazard these batteries pose.

“…The electrical charge can cause a kind of electrical burn in the esophagus,” said Dr. Gorra. “This electrical burn extends through the wall of the esophagus over time and you can develop permanent damage within about four hours.”

dr Gorra was eventually able to move the batteries into Remi’s stomach where he was able to surgically remove them.

Button batteries swallowed by toddler
Button batteries swallowed by infant (KFOR)

“She had a total of seven and a half hours of surgery,” RJ said. “That was the scariest time I’ve ever had.”

Megan says that while the situation was so frightening, she originally expected them to be in and out of the hospital that day.

But it would eight Days before Megan and RJ would hold Remi again. She spent weeks in the hospital.

Megan says as a parent there is a certain level of guilt to see your child go through something like this. She wants other parents to understand how dangerous button batteries can be for children.

“It was a crazy accident and I’m grateful that we have our daughter and she’s doing great, but as a parent it’s still very hard to wonder if there was anything we could have done differently,” Megan said. “I sort of repeat: “Maybe we should have put it higher. Maybe I shouldn’t have picked her up.” But I can’t go back. But I can try to prevent it from happening again, or prevent another family from going through what we had to go through.”

Remmy’s prognosis is good. She is undergoing procedures to dilate her esophagus so she can eat normal food.

dr Gorra says it’s a lot safer if the battery makes it to the stomach. A single battery can usually be passed through the body without surgery. Toddler hospitalized for 8 days after button batteries were swallowed

Grace Reader

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