2-year-old Brianna Florer was a healthy little girl, until December 27th when her grandfather noticed that her skin was turning blue and she began spitting up blood. Brianna was later rushed to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but despite the doctors’ best efforts, she tragically died within just a few short hours.
An X-ray revealed that the girl had swallowed a small button battery. These batteries are 5mm in diameter and are usually found in devices such as watches, flashlights, and remote controls. When laying around on the floor, they are small enough to go unnoticed by adults, but if swallowed, the results can be fatal. The battery can open and leak an alkaline substance that can cause corrosive and burning injuries.
“One minute she is perfect, and the next minute she is dead,” Kent Vice, the girl’s maternal grandfather, told the Oklahoman. “We had no idea when she swallowed the battery.”
The damage to a child’s body “is as poisonous as putting drain cleaner in you toddler’s favorite sippy cup,” according to Michael and Karla Rauch, who started the awareness website Emmett’s Fight after their son nearly died from swallowing one of the batteries. Emmett, who was just a year old at the time, suffered through 14 surgeries in the year after swallowing the battery.
There were 11,940 reported cases of children younger than 6 swallowing batteries between 2005 and 2014, according to the National Capitol Poison Center. More than 100 of those children suffered major medical complications, and 15 died.