A dad has issued a stark warning to parents after doctors found a button-sized battery in a toddler’s throat that was stuck there for four months.
Little Sofia-Grace Hill was rushed to hospital after struggling to breathe and eat.
X-rays revealed a tiny watch battery – the size of a 10p piece – lodged in, and burning the one-year-old’s oesophagus.
She underwent a two-hour surgery to remove the battery, and has to return to hospital every two weeks.
Her family has now urged other parents to lock away their batteries.
Dad Calham first noticed something was wrong after she was having difficulties drinking, breathing and could only eat pureed food.
Calham, from Wiltshire, said: “I was gutted when I saw it and angry at myself. I blamed myself, but now I realise there was nothing we could have done to know.
“Sofia is now on a pure diet and doing very well. She is improving week by week with regular dilations which is stretching and improving her oesophagus.”
Sofia-Grace now has to have a general anaesthetic to stretch her oesophagus every two weeks, and could also need further surgery.
Calham added: “I know the chance of survival in the first weeks after this happens is very low, so we are moving in the right direction.”
“Just get rid of them or lock them away and don’t give your child car keys to play with. Always trust your instincts as a parent.”
Janet McNally, consultant paediatric surgeon at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, who is treating Sofia-Grace, said her survival may be because the battery had lost its charge.
She said: “Clinicians and the government have been warning of the dangers of button batteries for a long time. But not all parents are aware of how dangerous they can be.”
A hospital spokesperson said: “Do not leave button batteries, items containing button batteries, or small magnets lying around the house.
“Keep them out of reach children. If there is any concern that a child has swallowed a battery or magent, immediately call 999 or attend the Emergency Department (ED).
“A child may not show symptoms if a battery or magnet is swallowed or ingested but it can have severe consequences if not treated or attended to by medical teams quickly.
“The newer neodymium magnets are much stronger than normal magnets and are found in many household objects and toys.
“When more than one magnet or a magnet and another metal object is swallowed, it can cause significant damage to the bowel.
“The more magnets swallowed, the greater the risk. A lithium battery could get stuck in the oesophagus and can cause a significant burn to the tissues within two hours.”