Doctors still ‘mentally scarred’ after treating toddler who swallowed a battery

Doctors at the Royal Stoke University Hospital say they are still mentally scarred by the death of a two-year-old girl who swallowed a button battery.

Experts at the Royal Stoke University Hospital battled in vain to save the life of little Harper-Lee Farnthorpe after she was rushed to A&E last month.

But there was nothing they could do and the Stoke toddler passed away in an operating theatre at the Hartshill complex later that afternoon.

Now Royal Stoke paediatrician Dr Anna Piggott is warning parents about the dangers of using the batteries which are the size of a small coin.

Batteries react with saliva and if a child swallows a button battery it can burn holes and cause internal bleeding and even death.

Harper-Lee died after acid from the battery burned through her oesophagus and into a major artery. Mum Stacey Nicklin later found a remote control with a missing button battery in her daughter's bedroom.

Dr Pigott told Stoke Live: “Our hearts go out to the family involved. We urge parents to be aware of the danger presented by button batteries.

"The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is aware of a number of deaths and very serious injuries involving other children who have swallowed button batteries in the UK, so this is clearly not an isolated incident."

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She added: "The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are concerned about the dangers of the batteries and are currently undertaking a national survey to identify how many children every year are killed or harmed by button batteries.

“Symptoms that may indicate a child has swallowed a battery include coughing or drooling, coughing up blood, and pointing to their throat or tummy.

"Children with any of these symptoms without another obvious reason should be taken to hospital immediately to be assessed. A simple X-ray can identify if a battery has been swallowed, and if it is likely to cause a danger.

“As clinicians, we fought as hard as we possibly could to save the child, but sadly in this case the bleeding was so extensive it was not possible."

"This is one of those cases that will stick in the hearts and minds of our medical and nursing teams for a very long time," she said, "and we urge parents to take note of this tragic incident so that any future cases can be prevented.”

An inquest has ruled that Harper-Lee's death was accidental.

Staffordshire Safeguarding Children's Board has already warned parents about the dangers of button batteries in its latest child death prevention newsletter.

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