Week 5 – Battery Button Ingestion Awareness

11 06 2012

Oh my goodness…I can’t believe that 2 weeks has passed and I haven’t gotten a chance to discuss my chosen Awarenesses!  But this week, is something that before I found Emmett’s story – it’s not something that I gave much thought to – Button Battery Ingestion.

I honestly can’t tell you how I found his mom’s site/blog or what caused me to read more, but I did.  I’ve become hyper aware around our house about batteries and since Tucker’s favorite of his 5 senses is taste (and he WILL taste anything) I now pay much closer attention to the toys with batteries, but especially button batteries.  And if you have kids you’re well aware how MANY toys have batteries in them – not to mention how many things Eric and I use on a regular basis that have batteries.  Here is a brief synopsis of Emmett’s story:

Saturday, October 16th , 2010 was supposed to be a day of celebration.  We were going to celebrate our son Emmett’s first birthday with a party for him and for his brother Ethan who was turning three. That morning however, Emmett woke up with a fever and was acting unusual and when his symptoms intensified we felt he needed to be seen by a doctor. My husband Michael took Emmett to the urgent care, where he was diagnosed with either the flu or a possible reaction to recent vaccinations. Over the next two days he became lethargic, was coughing up lots of mucus, had no desire to eat and was unable to sleep. We decided he needed to be seen by his own pediatrician and as we were getting ready, Emmett started vomiting up blood.  After hearing Emmett’s symptoms, the pediatrician immediately sent us to the Emergency Department(ED). When we arrived at the ED, Emmett was given two breathing treatments and the physician ordered a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed that an object was lodged in his esophagus!  I was shocked because there had been no sign of him choking on anything. The doctor informed us that the object in Emmett’s throat was a button battery and that the radiologist could identify the serial number of the battery in the x-ray. I was sick, taken aback, confused, ashamed, embarrassed, lost, angry, sad, hopeless and nervous. I think I felt every negative emotion one could feel.  An ambulance rushed us to Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) where we met Dr. Egan, a pediatric trauma surgeon.  Within 20 minutes of our arrival to PCH, Emmett was rushed into the operating room for the removal of the button battery.

Three hours later Dr. Egan came to inform us of the damage that had been done to Emmett’s poor little body.  His esophagus was severely burned. Emmett was not able to breathe on his own, so a ventilator was placed for his breathing support.  Each day in the Pediatric ICU (PICU) was critical. Emmett was in severe pain which required lots of sedation and pain management.  A few days later when the doctors examined his airway they found that the damage was more severe than expected. The battery literally burned a hole through his esophagus into his trachea (airway) allowing his stomach bile to reflux into his lungs.  Emmett had a stent placed but unfortunately the procedure was unsuccessful.  We felt so hopeless.  After the failure of the stent doctors removed two inches of Emmett’s esophagus and it was rerouted to come out the side of his neck, called a TE fistula. The other end of the esophagus that was attached to the stomach then was stapled shut. The trachea was patched with nearby tissue to close off the airway leak. What was supposed to be a 2 hour surgery turned into a 9 1/2 hour surgery!!

Emmett had a feeding tube (G-tube) placed for his 100% nourishment, since his esophagus was temporarily non-functional. After five weeks in the PICU, Emmett was finally sent home. He required occupational, physical and speech/swallowing therapies each week.

After 5 months of being home Emmett went back to the operating room to have his esophagus reattached.  There were many concerns about reattaching the esophagus since two inches had been removed but to all of our amazement, the two ends of the esophagus joined together perfectly.  Five days later Emmett’s vital signs became unstable. A test revealed a large leak in his newly repaired esophagus.  He was rushed back into the OR where multiple surgeons consulted on what to do.  Because this was such a rare case physicians from out of state where contacted, and together they devised a plan to repair Emmett’s throat.

After many ups and downs, by the end of March we were able to bring Emmett home.  Unfortunately we soon discovered that he could not tolerate the formula that he was being given via G-tube.  He was vomiting up the majority of his meals and also eventually developed pneumonia.

On June 7th, 2011, a new fistula (hole) was discovered. The hole, however, was not in the original location; it was in a completely new location. The physicians believe that the damage was created when the button battery was ingested, but the tissue did not give way until Emmett started vomiting.

On July 20th, Emmett went back into the operating room where they successfully removed the damaged section of the esophagus.  It continues to slowly heal.

Emmett is currently home requiring 100% oxygen support accompanied by a compression vest to help his lungs release secretions.  He continues to be fed through a G – tube and we now have nursing help at home.  Every two weeks he has a procedure to open and widen his esophagus.  This prevents secretions from pooling and overflowing into his airway.  This allows him to be home and finally enjoy being a toddler!

Thus far Emmett has endured 19 surgeries, has been under general anesthesia over 20 times, and has been exposed to almost 200 x-rays. Four inches of his esophagus has been removed and he has spent a total of 7 months living at  Phoenix  Children’s Hospital.  His prognosis is unknown. We are hoping for the best, that one day Emmett will be able to freely live his life.

Emmett’s story touched my heart, and made it ache so for him and his family.  As a mom I would move heaven and earth to keep my children from pain.  In 2010 lone, more than 3,400 swallowing cases were reported in the U.S.  19 children sustained life-threatening or debilitating injuries and others died!  This is especially scary when kids can’t use their words to describe what they did, ate, or what hurts leaving parents in a tailspin guessing what is wrong with their baby.  But Emmet’s Fight gives a list of things that you can look out for and what to do if God-forbid your child, of any age, would swallow a button battery, courtesy of Emmet’s Fight

We can take simple steps to protect our children.

  • Look in your home for any items that may contain coin-sized button batteries:
    Small remotes · Car key fobs · Mini remotes that control MP3 speakers · Calculators · Bathroom scales · Reading lights · Flameless candles · Talking and singing books · Singing greeting cards · Watches · Thermometers · Hearing aids · Flashing jewelry · Ornaments · Games · Toys
  • Place devices out of sight and out of reach of small children.
  • Keep loose or spare batteries locked away.

If a coin-sized button battery is suspected to have been swallowed, you should get help fast following these steps:

  • Go to the emergency room immediately.
  • Tell doctors and nurses that it might be a button battery.
  • If possible, provide the identification number found on the battery’s package.
  • Do not let the child eat or drink until a chest x-ray can determine if a battery is present.
  • Do not induce vomiting.

I hope that you’ll check everything that you use with batteries in your house…if your child is anything like mine they find things that I didn’t even know were there!  I am so grateful that I found this site and have been informed about Emmett’s Fight.  May his story save many others!

Dear Tucker,
I can’t tell you why I was lead to read about Emmett’s story, but I sure am glad that I was.  Emmett survived a horrific thing, when he didn’t even know that he was doing anything wrong.  He was younger than you are now, and even at almost 18 months you are still using that sense of taste more than I’d like on things that you shouldn’t be putting in your mouth.  The sad fact is – I can’t be watching you 24 hours a day.  You’re too fast, and our house would be an episode of accidental hoarders.  What I can do though, is do everything in my power to make our home a safe place for you, your sister, and dog.  Emmett’s Fight brought light to a new way that I can do that for you guys.  We will continue to keep all those in need of God’s healing hands in our night time prayers, and use the knowledge God has given to us to made our lives better.  I love watching you explore the world everyday – although I wouldn’t cry if you decided to do it a little slower and without bruises for your pictures tomorrow!  I love you so much Tuckey Tot!



One response

10 12 2012

i love your article! i actually know emmett (not directly, it’s kind of complicated. his family goes to the same chruch i do). his story almost made me cry. i sure hope he recovers!

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