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My Son Died After Swallowing a Button Battery

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A mom of three lost her precious baby ... now she wants to warn other moms about this hidden danger.

aidan truett

Michelle Truett: My 1-year-old baby boy Aidan recently passed away on November 22, 2009. Unbeknownst to us, he had swallowed a button battery.

Aidan had just turned 1 in October, and had always been a very healthy child. (I have two other kids -- ages 9 and 4.) In mid-November, he showed signs of having the flu -- he was not holding any food down.

I took him to the doctor, and he said he had a viral infection and sent us home.

But he was not getting better -- he was getting worse. We took him back the next day and said we thought he had swallowed something. They did an X-ray of his stomach, but didn't find anything.

The next day, he had increased saliva and was so congested, so we took him for a second opinion. They didn't find anything.

We just knew something was wrong. We went to five or six doctor's appointments in a week and a half. We kept saying, 'We think he has swallowed something." Exactly one week after the first X-ray, they did another one, and found a button battery in his stomach.

We have no idea where Aidan got the battery. We checked all the toys and remotes in our house and in his babysitter's house, and none were found missing. I guess we'll never know where he got it from.

Surgery to remove the battery was done on the 19th. They removed it successfully and said everything would be okay. They didn't see any signs of irritation or anything.

Aidan came home that evening without any complications, but still had the congestion. They said that was from his viral respiratory infection.

Two days later, on Saturday night around 9:45 PM, I heard Aidan coughing in his crib. I ran up to find him sitting up in his crib completely covered in blood.

I'm a nurse, so I took him downstairs and swiped his mouth. It was full of blood clots. My baby boy was hemorrhaging.

Aidan had gone into cardiac arrest. I started CPR. He was then transported to the ER and airlifted to the local children's hospital. Nobody was ever able to revive him, despite several hours of advanced cardiac life support.

After four hours of trying, there was nothing more that could be done. My son was pronounced dead at 2:30 AM on Sunday, November 22nd.

We had an autopsy, because we had a feeling his death had to do with the battery. I was told after the autopsy that an erosion was found in his esophagus leading to the aorta. We are assuming this is from the battery ingestion. A final report has not yet been given to us.

I feel if they could have found the battery sooner, when we first brought him to the doctor, this could have had a different outcome. A full week passed between our first and second X-rays. The button probably sat inside his esophagus for quite some time in order for it to erode like it did. You would have thought they would have seen something when they went in to remove the button battery from his stomach.

Now, I am trying to get the word out to other mothers about the dangers of button batteries. I hope I can even spare one parent this pain. We had a perfect child one minute, and the next minute he was gone.

Keep button batteries out of reach of children. Treat them as if they are dangerous medications. Don't leave them lying around for any reason. You never know if your kids or if your kids' friends will get ahold of them. They're tiny disks, and they're shiny, so they're appealing to babies and toddlers. They come in singing greeting cards, watches, and handheld games. A lot of toys for kids have them. You have to be so careful.

My message for medical professionals is to listen to the parents. I'm a mom who doesn't take her kids to the doctor for every little thing. But I was at the doctor six times in a week and a half because I knew something was wrong. I feel like they kind of brushed me off a bit. I'm not the kind of person who wants to blame, but I hope they can take this as a learning experience.

I really feel it is necessary to get my story out there to prevent any more tragedies like this. Hospitals, doctors, and parents need to understand the life-threatening danger of these batteries.

If we can help save another life, it's like Aidan will live on in some way.

aidan truett

next: Cybill Shepherd's Son Arrested After Flight
51 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cheryl January 13, 2010, 4:03 AM

I am so sorry for your loss. thank you for sharing your story, I had no idea that these batteries posed this kind of threat to the safety of our little ones.

Sharon January 13, 2010, 8:32 AM

I am so very sorry for your loss, your story brought tears to my eyes. I have 3 little boys, twins who are 15 months and one that is almost 3. They are always finding things I don’t even notice to put in there mouths and I’m always so afraid of choking, I never even thought of the damage one of these batteries could do. You are very brave to share your story. God bless you and your family.

Christina January 13, 2010, 9:40 AM

I am so very sorry about your loss. Your story caught my attention as our son also swallowed a button battery right before Christmas. I agree that something needs to be done to educate people about this danger. Fortunately, our Aidan (our son is also named Aidan and is also 13 months), was in the hospital for 4 days and suffered 3rd degree burns to his esophagus. It was with only my urging the dr that he actually ordered an x-ray. I would love to speak to you to join your efforts in educating others and demanding that the manufacturers of batteries do something to prevent this from happening to anyone else. My heart goes out to you!

DF January 13, 2010, 10:13 AM

Why did you think he swallowed something? You omitted that part.. did you see something suspicious at one point? I was just curious

Jill January 13, 2010, 5:35 PM

I am so sorry for your tragic loss, how awful for you and your family. I will keep you in my prayers. Thank you for having the courage to share your story and warn other families, i know i will be very careful about these batteries. your baby boy was so beautiful.

Amanda Donovan January 15, 2010, 7:37 PM

Dear Michelle, A friend just forwarded me your story. The same thing happened to our daughter, Hazel, in November and December 2008. Our daughter survived, but it was very close, and our story is almost identical to yours. I have gained contact with other parents of children who have experienced button battery injuries, and we have been working very hard with media, childrens hospital in boston and advocacy organizations to educate medical professionals, and to hopefully eventually get the CPSC to regulate these devices, if not totally removed from the market. I included a link to my blog where you can read our story in the archives, and I would love to speak to you in private. Of course I understand if you are not ready for that, but know that I am here for you any time. My heart aches for you and your family. Your son is so beautiful and I am nothing short of furious that this happened to you after all the work we have put into stopping this from happening to anyone else. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I would love to hear from you, but if I don’t then know that I’ll be thinking of you and your son always.
With love,
Amanda Donovan

Nicole  January 18, 2010, 9:45 AM

Words can not discribe the loss of a child. I have felt it myself. I am so so so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the warning, I have a 3 year old now and never gave those a thought. God Bless you and your family.

Michelle January 21, 2010, 6:45 PM

Amanda, I just read your comment and yes I would love to talk with you also. I do not see your link attached to the website you are talking about. Can you please forward that to me once again? Thanks Michelle

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Marianne Johnson February 18, 2010, 12:54 AM

This is so terrible. I’m so sorry for you and your family. What a heartbreaking tradgedy. I think that sometimes Doctors are so overworked, they forget how intuitive moms are and treat everyone like “just another overworried mom.” So sad to lose such a beautiful boy……

Tami March 26, 2010, 12:46 PM

Michelle, first I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful son. Because of your story, I was informed and able to act in passing on the inforamtion to my brother when I heard my nephew swallowed a button battery. Last night his parents took him to the ER and he is doing ok. Still keeping a close eye on him. Thank you for getting the word out, it made a difference in our case.

Tessa May 10, 2010, 4:54 AM

I am so very sorry for your loss. My five year old son passed away 2 years ago after hitting his head and falling into a family pool. It happened SO fast and we got to him quickly….but we think secondary drowning played a part in his being “off balance” and falling. THAT is a long story…but I share the loss of a child. What caught my attention in this article is that I JUST had a situation WITH a button battery. I have a one year old daughter, she was playing with a remote control from my oldest (15) daughter’s room. I had NO idea it held tiny batteries or that the BACK holding the battery IN was not secure. It was a press and release that let the battery OUT and she somehow triggered that. At THAT moment I had no clue WHAT she was choking on but I could see shiny and thought it was loose change. I went numb because I could not get it OUT and she was turning blue. I knew not to stick my finger in there because it would go down farther so I leaned her forward and did the hymlic…I’m a trained EMT so I knew if it did not work the way I needed it to for her age that I could try the infant maneuver. THANKFULLY the battery popped out and I was SHOCKED to see it! WHY do they USE These in these devices and if so…..WHY do they not make the devices more secure so that infants/toddlers can GET TO THEM!!!! Larger batteries are not much better but are not as easy to “swallow”. I think we should ask for the electronic’s makers to make the devices more secure where the batteries are held….to the point of needing a screwdriver to remove the backing for a replacement.
Again I am SO sorry…..and would join any effort you make in asking for stricter policies for making electronic devices toddler/infant SAFE when using small parts. Feel free to email me or add me on Facebook under Contessa Nunez. I have a good support group of a few moms who are suffering the loss of a child. We all need a group of those who understand.
Hugs to you sweetie and thank you for your awareness post!!

Elke July 18, 2010, 3:37 AM

Thank you for sharing your experience. 4 yr s ago my son (who was 1 then) swallowed a cell battery the size of a $1 coin. It lodged at the opening of his trachea and oesophagus. The emergency dr thought he had a vomiting bug. Finally he x rayed him and we were air lifted out straight away to a bigger hospital but we got lost in hospital protocol & it wasn’t taken out until the next morning. It burnt a hole through his oesophagus, he became very sick. I spent a lot of time in hospital and we nearly lost him on multiple occasions. Finally I brought him home where I tube fed him for 6wks. The whole experience nearly broke me, I still have guilt but he is with us today. I cant even begin to imagine how you must be feeling after losing your precious precious baby. People would say to me ‘how did he get a battery?’ this question hurt me so badly, it was like I let him have it to play with. I would love to help mothers in any way get the word out about this. I am in Australia.

anonymous December 3, 2010, 11:06 AM

I feel so sorry for you and your family. I mean I have tw brothers and would never want that to happen to them. You will be in my prayers. May God watch over you and your family as you live. I am deeply sympathetic.

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