It’s heartbreaking to think that something so small could lead to the painful death of a toddler just a week after Christmas.
Kent Vice remembers the last time he saw his granddaughter happy and playful – it was the day after Christmas when Brianna Florer and her siblings were at his home to open Christmas presents. No one could have imagined that the next day she’d be dead.
“On Saturday she was fine,” Vice said. “It was a perfect Christmas.”
She hadn’t been feeling 100% in the days leading up to that, but on Sunday, things took a gruesome turn. She threw up blood and her body turned blue.
Brianna’s parents live in a rural area, with very few doctors. According to The Oklahoman:
“Brian and Stephanie Florer, who live in rural Delaware County, called the Jay ambulance, which met them at a convenience store to check Brianna’s condition.
But the little girl would need more help than they could give and when she threw up “a massive amount of blood” again, according to her grandfather, she was rushed to the hospital in the nearest town – Grove, Oklahoma.
An X-ray showed that the toddler had swallowed a tiny, silver button battery, which had leaked into her system. No one is sure when it happened, but doctors estimated it was some time in the 6 days before her death.
To get Brianna the best care, she was taken by ambulance to another facility, St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Unfortunately, no medical helicopters were available that day because of bad weather.
The little girl was immediately rushed into surgery, but it was too late – the damage was extensive.
“They operated on her for 2½ hours, but they couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Vice said. “They believed the battery ate through to her carotid artery by way of her esophagus.”
Swallowing tiny button batteries is far more common than most of us realize.
In 2015, there were 53 reported cases in Oklahoma alone, but no fatalities. From 2005 to 2014, there were 11,940 battery-swallowing incidents around the country, according to the National Capitol Poison Center in Washington, D.C. 15 of those children died, and 101 suffered major medical problems.
Most of the time the little batteries pass through the system without any damage.
Then there are the other times.
Randy Badillo of the Oklahoma Poison Control Center said:
“…if the battery lodges in the esophagus or digestive tract, it can open and release an alkaline substance that can cause corrosive or burning injuries.”
Lithium button batteries can produce damaging electrical currents and create a chemical reaction that produces hydroxide – which is also found in lye. This perforates the tissues and can cause painful and life-threatening injuries.
Florer’s family wants parents to know that these batteries should be kept out of the home if possible, but now the long-lasting batteries are everywhere.
Injuries among toddlers have also been reported after they’ve put them in their ears and nose.
Parents should secure spare batteries, making sure they’re out of the reach of children. And they should also be sure small children can’t remove the batteries from devices in the house.
They’re in everything from remote controls, garage door openers, electronic bathroom scales, toys, cameras, watches, calculators, digital thermometers, hearing aids, flashing shoes, electric toothbrushes, to flashing or lighted jewelry or shoes and even in singing greeting cards.
Doctors have also warned adults never to lick batteries to test them.
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