It was two days after Christmas, and the Florer family, from Oklahoma, was enjoying quality time with the youngest member of the family, 2-year-old Brianna, at her grandparents’ home.
Hours later, the happy, blond-haired toddler was rushed to hospital; it wasn’t long before she was pronounced dead. An X-ray illuminated doctors and Brianna’s devastated family to the shocking, unexpected culprit: a dime-sized, silver button battery.
2-year-old dies after eating a battery
“On Saturday she was fine,” Brianna’s grandfather Kent Vice, a former county undersheriff, told The Oklahoman. “It was a perfect Christmas,” he lamented.
Brianna had been unwell for a couple of days; she had vomited and had a low fever. But when she threw up blood and her skin turned blue, the family needed no more convincing that something was desperately wrong. Brianna’s parents, Brian and Stephanie Florer, called 911.
“It was a massive amount of blood,” Vice recalled, “and they rushed her to the Grove hospital.” Grove physicians quickly confirmed the severity of little Brianna’s condition and the toddler was rushed to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa for surgery.
The little girl’s ravaged body endured two and a half hours of surgery, “but they couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Vice explained, heartbroken. “They believed the battery ate through to her carotid artery by way of her esophagus.”
“They believed the battery (acid) ate through to her carotid artery by way of her esophagus. … We had no idea when she swallowed it.”
Describing his granddaughter as “always happy and laughing,” Vice’s disbelief echoed that of the entire Florer family as a magical Christmas turned into their very worst nightmare. “One minute she is perfect,” he said, “and the next minute she is dead.”
According to the NY Daily News, doctors said the “killer,” a small button battery, had probably been swallowed within six days of Brianna’s death. Her family had absolutely no idea that the toddler had found and swallowed this alarmingly common household object.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) January 1, 2016
Recently, The Epoch Times reported that the number of young children being admitted to emergency rooms across America for swallowing batteries, toys, coins, and other small items was on the rise. The Conversation cited an increase in the use of button batteries for domestic products such as torches, remote controls, car keys, ornaments, and artificial candles in recent years as the reason.
But why are button batteries so dangerous?
Randy Badillo, senior specialist with the Oklahoma Poison Control Center, told the Oklahoman that swallowed button batteries usually pass through the digestive system without causing any problems. “But,” he clarified, “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.”
This is what happened to poor Brianna, and we don’t even have to imagine the extent of the internal damage that button batteries can cause because a study has done it for us.
The dangers of button batteries…CPR Kids founder Sarah Hunstead, did her own time-lapse experiment at home, on just…
Not for the fainthearted, a series of distressing photos shared by CPR Kids founder Sarah Hunstead illustrate how much damage it can really cause when a child swallows a button battery. Using chicken fillets and a time-lapse camera, Hunstead snapped the fillets after 30 minutes’ exposure to the batteries, and again after only four hours.
The results are, quite frankly, horrifying.
“I want [button batteries] out of houses,” Brianna’s grandfather stated. “They are dangerous.” The facts are truly terrifying, but for all parents and caregivers out there, there is something that you can do to help protect your little ones.
“Try to see the world from a child’s point of view by getting on the floor so that you are at your child’s eye level,” advised Morag Mackay of Safe Kids Worldwide, according to The Associated Press. “Keep small objects such as coins, batteries, magnets, buttons, or jewelry out of reach and sight.”
The Florers’ heartbreak, including that of Brianna’s older brother and two sisters, will likely never heal. But by the Florers selflessly sharing their story and a heartfelt warning, many more children could be saved from the same tragedy as befell Brianna.