Warning: Swallowed Batteries

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    Please read this story about a friend of mine (currently going on) and be VERY CAREFUL WITH SMALL BATTERIES – they are found in many things including TV remotes and those cards that sing.

    Google ‘swallowed batteries’ and there is a wealth of information out there on what to do if a battery is accidentally swallowed, who is at the greatest risk, how it happens, etc. The most comprehensive information my friend found was at the National Capital Poison Center and it’s all especially helpful IF you know a battery has been swallowed. The good news is that 89% of ingested batteries pass through the system quickly but there is always the chance it can become lodged and cause serious damage in a very short time. They corrode easily in a warm wet environment and start leaking. It is imperative to identify the type of battery (numbers available on the package and printed on the battery itself) if at all possible, then to call the 24-hour National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 IMMEDIATELY. They will want the battery after it is retrieved so save it.


    Please be very careful!!


    I don’t know where to begin. I am writing this as I sit in the Children’s Hospital Boston Medical Surgical PICU. Hazel is next to me, but she isn’t there. She has been intubated and heavily sedated for five days now. Her little body is hooked into every machine they have in this place. I can start at the beginning, I guess…

    On Tuesday November18th, Hazel projectile vomited. On Wednesday the 19th she spiked a fever. On Friday the 21st she began to wheeze in the late morning. She was having a hard time swallowing her food, so she wasn’t really eating. We took her in to see the pediatrician and they said it looks like croup; take her out in the cold air, keep her room humidified and it will pass on its own. But, she never developed a croup cough. She never responded well to cold air or humidity. On Sunday night, November 23rd, Hazel started spitting up what little she was eating and I decided that it was time to bring her to the ER.

    Her breathing was so loud that they heard us coming from down the hall. She sounded terrible. They rushed us into a room without even registering us and began giving her a nebulizer. She had several that night, as well as steroids. We were admitted and she continued nebulizer treatments through the night. There was still no improvement. Two days later, they shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s just a virus. Go home and ride it out.” So we went home. Hazel still was wheezing so loud you could hear it two rooms away. I tried to keep her comfortable so she wouldn’t cry or exert herself because the breathing became so much worse. I was feeding her with a medicine dropper because it was all she could swallow at a time.

    That evening, Tuesday the 25th she was very fussy, so while Jamie ran out to the store, I decided to give her some Motrin and a see how much she could take from a bottle. When I sat down to feed her, Hazel stopped breathing. She turned bright red, her eyes bugged out of her head and she looked at me terrified. She began to gag and retch, so I thought she was going to throw up. I tipped her forward and started to pound on her back. That is when she started gagging and coughing up blood. Bright red blood. It was foaming and blowing bubbles with her saliva. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I called 911, screaming “NO NO NO!!” I thought she was going to die in my arms on the living room floor. I grabbed my purse and we went out in the street. The police came very fast, then the fire truck and the ambulance. Jamie came home at that moment and he followed us to the hospital.

    Back in the ER we had the same doctor. Despite the blood on my shirt, on her baby blanket, despite her lethargy, we were told that it was not blood that she coughed up but that it was likely Motrin. We were told how long this doctor had spent in medical school, how even if it was blood it was no big deal. We were told how many things people cough up that look like blood. We were told a lot of things by some very condescending and arrogant people, but through all the talk, no one thought that it might be wise to do some further tests. For instance, a chest x-ray. Like the chest x-ray that should have been done during our previous ER visit and inpatient stay. No one thought to rule out the very severe potential causes of the episode Hazel had at home, or think about differential diagnosis when Hazels wheezing didn’t respond to medications or become a cough. Or improve with time. Instead of investigating, they decided to spend their time trying to make us look stupid and hysterical. They continued to administer nebulizers and steroids, despite those treatments being discontinued in our prior hospitalization because they had no effect.

    The following morning they were going to discharge us again, send us home with the same line we had been hearing for over a week, “Viruses take time,”. A doctor from Hazel’s PCP practice stopped by in the morning and gently suggested that perhaps they should take a chest xray just to rule out pneumonia. She was more than a little surprised that no one thought to do it earlier. I was, too. When the chest films came back, it was clear as day; there was a “foreign object” lodged tightly in her esophagus. It looked just like a nickel. I was thrilled! Now they could just pluck it out and we could be home for Thanksgiving! They transferred us to Children’s Hospital Boston to have it removed in endoscopic surgery. I ran home for clothes while Jamie rode down with an increasingly lethargic Hazel. Over the past few days, Hazel had been sleeping more and more. One day, she took seven hours of naps.

    As Jamie was riding down in the ambulance, he remembered that we had recently noticed that the button battery from our DVD remote had been missing. We had just assumed it was long gone, or sucked into the vacuum or something. It looks almost exactly like a nickel.

    In the Children’s ER, they also thought it was a battery from the x-ray, and they rushed us up into surgery. I was terrified. Especially when they wouldn’t let me be with Hazel as they put her under anesthesia, “because really bad things can happen.” She was in surgery for a while, and we just cried and hyperventilated. A battery apparently begins to leak acid after only about an hour. This had been in Hazel for six days. Her hematocrit was low because she had been losing so much blood, and she required a transfusion. Her esophagus is badly burned, and where the battery was lodged burned through the mucosa, through the muscle, and so there is a very thin piece of tissue that they are afraid will rupture. If that tissue ruptures, she will require a major surgery that will involve going in through her neck and/or chest.

    She was intubated, heavily sedated and sent up to ICU to recover for the night. The next morning, they attempted to extubate her. I was so excited. They pulled the breathing tube and put her in my arms. Within about thirty seconds, she started gasping. Her eyes bugged out and she looked up at me, terrified. She was reaching her hands up to me and I saw they were blue. When I looked down at her face, she was blue and foaming at the mouth. Time stopped. Someone pulled me back and about fifteen people rushed in. In my mind it was about half an hour, but I was told it was only ten minutes. They sedated her and were able to reintubate. She has been on the ventilator ever since.

    Today is Day Six in the ICU. Day Six on the ventilator. Day Six of having my daughter lay there unconscious. I don’t have the words or the energy to describe how I’m feeling, so I’m not going to try right now. Suffice it to say that I have never missed someone more than I miss her now. I can’t stop crying. I need her back.

    We are not out of the woods yet, so please keep praying and sending us healthy, strong thoughts. Thank you to everyone who has already called, texted, emailed, snail mailed, sent flowers, balloons, books, and St. Christopher medals. It means the world that so many people are cheering Hazel on as she fights the good fight.


    How is this child now? Thanks for alerting all of us, may we hear only good tidings.


    Unfortunately I’ve seen a very similair story. Child swallowed a calculator battery which quickly eroded in the esophagus, subsequently puncturing it. That kid spent several days in our ICU on the vent and thankfully, did manage to pull through after a complicated stay.

    SJS – hope you can share good news with us very soon.


    OIY! You poor things! Please give us her name so we can daven for her. you are in my thoughts and prayers.


    Shindy, she isnt Jewish. I dont know exactly how prayer for non-Jews works(I just keep her mind), but her name is Hazel Donovan.

    They are planning to extubate today, but we’ll see. They are waiting for the swelling to go down. They think everything should turn out ok.


    Wow. That is so sad. The writer sounds so pained.

    doctors have to make people feel comfortable coming because many times people feel stupid and meanwhile it’s something serious. (I know someone who almost lost her baby ch”v because she waited. BH it was saved just in time.)


    whoa this is a crazy nightmare

    The Big One

    Deleted by YW Moderator .


    Edited by YW Moderator to remove reference to deleted post

    The point of my post was actually to alert everyone to the dangers and prevent others from swallowing batteries.

    Hazel woke up! She still has a long way to go, but its a start.



    this is a helpful reminder not to keep old batteries lying around gl


    May Hazel have a complete recovery!


    It’s really a lesson for all us parents. To try not to leave small objects in the reach of children, and tefilla, because we really can’t watch our kids 24/7. we can only try our best.


    I dont know why my last post didnt go through.

    The Big One – I think you should think long and hard about the chillul hashem you just put out in front of the entire internet. Google swallowed batteries and this comes up pretty close to the top.

    I hope you are never in a situation where you need compassion from someone who isn’t Jewish. I can’t imagine why they would want to help you when that is your attitude.

    The Big One

    sjs, You’re liberal watered-down Judaism in name only (JINO) view is simply incorrect.


    Wow, that’s such an incredibly sad story, particularly since it seems like it should have been caught much earlier. Is your friend suing for malpractice? Of course, it won’t help Hazel get better, but I’m sure this treatment is expensive, and I can’t imagine why her situation wasn’t taken seriously from the outset. It’s scary to know that a chest x-ray, such a simple procedure, was not performed when it should have been.

    Refuah sheleimah. I will absolutely keep her in my thoughts and prayers.

    (BTW- how old is this child? She sounds quite young.)


    The Big One – please explain how caring about a sweet, innocent child is “my version of liberal watered-down Judaism.” I fail to see the connection.

    JFem, yes it is really sad. They will be suing the doctor – not specifically for financial gain, but because this should have been done. Its standard procedure that was ignored and gross negligence.

    Hazel is 9.5 months old. She is awake and starting to play! Thank you to all you caring individuals who care about this sweet little girl (regardless of her religious affiliation).


    Hazel is out of the ICU! She had a miraculous recovery – she had developed an infection that 50% of people die from, but battled through. You can read the story in more detail at:


    anon for this

    Thanks for the update.


    How is the little baby now?

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