2-Year-Old May Never Walk Again After Swallowing a Lithium 'Button Battery'

baby swallows lithium button battery
Cheryl Bell/Facebook

Every parent's worst nightmare came true for one mom when a seemingly harmless household item nearly took her little girl's life: Two-year-old Kacie almost died when she swallowed a tiny lithium button battery that fell out of an electronic car key, a terrifying accident only one other child in the world has ever survived. And though she's alive, the little girl will most likely never walk again.

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Cheryl Bell rushed her daughter to the hospital when she started rolling around in severe pain two months ago for no apparent reason.

"She had diarrhea and vomiting which didn't stop. I took her into [the] hospital and she wasn't breathing, we thought she was going to have an asthma attack," the English mom said.

When she heard that Kacie had swallowed a lithium battery, she "started screaming and crying," she said. The battery wasn't removed for nine days; Kacie stayed in the hospital for another eight. But then, just five days after that, the little girl was rushed back to the hospital when she started vomiting blood. 

More from CafeMom: 12 Tips for Keeping Your Toddler Safe from Swallowing a Button Battery

"The acid from the battery burned through her stomach and two arteries in her back, which has left her unable to walk," Bell said. "I was devastated, I couldn't believe it was happening to me."

Kacie was forced to undergo six and a half hours of surgery to repair the arteries at the bottom of her back and her esophagus; there was a 40 percent chance she wouldn't survive. Miraculously, she made it -- but her parents have been warned that she might be paralyzed from the waist down, and her esophagus is so badly burned that she can't eat or drink and must be fed through a tube. 

"It was horrendous -- we thought we were going to lose her," said Bell. "I want to get the message out there about how dangerous button batteries are. I want to warn other parents what damage the batteries can do."

She's absolutely right. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, incidents of lithium button battery ingestions are on the rise -- which isn't surprising considering they're practically everywhere (in remote controls, calculators, toys, musical greeting cards, watches, and many other types of electronic devices). Parents might not even see a toddler pick one up and pop it in his mouth!

Unfortunately, what happens next is horrifying: Once swallowed, the batteries get stuck in the throat; saliva then triggers an electric current which causes a chemical reaction that can burn the esophagus in just two hours' time. 

More from CafeMom: Toddler Fights for Life After Swallowing Battery

As the mother of a 2-year-old, I will say this story literally makes my heart race. We try so hard to keep a close watch on our toddlers at all times (and to make sure there aren't any hazardous objects within reach), but accidents happen -- in a split second -- to even the most responsible of parents. In the time it takes you to sneeze, a toddler can find the most dangerous thing in the house and do the most dangerous thing possible with it. Tragedies like this one are a terribly scary reminder that anything can happen, and we're so lucky every time our kids get through the day safe and sound.

Chances are you're already doing everything you can to make sure your kid is safe, but it's worth taking another look around your home and car for any loose batteries. And know the signs of swallowing a button battery, which include: a sudden onset of crying (some children may not be in pain), drooling, decreased eating or drinking, difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice, vomiting, chest or abdominal pain, and blood in the saliva and stool.

Here's hoping little Kacie gets well soon!

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