A toddler is lucky to be alive after acid from a battery she swallowed burned through her lung.
The injury was so severe that little Sophie Skill spent six days on life support following an emergency operation, and further months recovering in hospital, after swallowing a lithium battery the size of a 10p.
Two-year-old Sophie was playing in her front room at home when mum Clare noticed she had become agitated and started to cry.
“She was crying excessively like I had never heard before, and she was holding the back of her neck,” Clare said.
“She was so distressed, and I just knew she had swallowed something. My heart was beating so fast.”
Concerned Clare immediately took her daughter to hospital, where an X-ray showed she had swallowed the small battery.
And within two hours of arriving at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, South Yorks., Sophie was rushed to surgery to have it removed.
Clare said: “As soon as they knew what it was, it all became much more urgent.”
The battery was removed from her food pipe, but as the inflamed area around her throat had swollen over, they were unable to immediately detect a hole caused by the corrosive caustic acid.
After 24 hours, nurses noticed she wasn’t recovering properly from the operation and more tests and a second X-ray uncovered the hole in her throat that was showing signs of infection.
Shockingly, they also discovered the acid had burned through her lung.
Sophie, of Sheffield, was immediately rushed to intensive care where they put in a chest drain and put her on a ventilator to help her breathe.
Clare said: “I was just so scared, thinking the worst.
“After a week, she had a CT scan and it showed the hole wasn’t healing and was in fact getting bigger because the acid was continuing to corrode her oesophagus.”
Sophie was sent to theatre again, with surgeon Sean Marven fitting a special ‘T’ tube from the hole to her stomach to drain fluid out of her body. Tissue was taken from Sophie’s side and put around the hole to allow it to heal.
The toddler was then put on life support for six days.
Clare said: “She was put under general anaesthetic at least eight times during her eight weeks in hospital.
“She was ventilated six times and spent three weeks in intensive care. It was petrifying seeing her like that.
“She was in pain, and I just wanted so much for her to be better. I realise now that if it wasn’t for Mr Marven putting that ‘T’ tube in, she wouldn’t be here today.”
Sophie, who swallowed the battery in July, was finally discharged in September after her throat healed.
She now has to take an alkaline tablet each day, but has no lasting damage.
Clare said: “She is fantastic now, running around like nothing ever happened. She is a really happy little girl, and is looking forward to celebrating her third birthday next month.”
Her family want to warn parents of the dangers of button batteries, and launch a major fundraising campaign to say thank you to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital specialists who kept her alive.
Dad Wayne said: “By fundraising we want to help in any way we can, to repay them for what they have done for Sophie, because if it wasn’t for them she wouldn’t be here.”
Clare said: “I really want to make other parents aware of the implications of what can happen if your child gets hold of one of these batteries. I had no idea of the dangers, but now if I ever see one again it will be too soon.”
Grandfather John Johnson is hoping to lead 100 kind-hearted walkers on a Five Peak Challenge in June to raise money for The Children’s Hospital Charity.
So far 25 people have signed up, but John hopes the number will rise to 100.
John said: “Sophie had so many mountains to climb in her treatment, so we wanted to do something that would represent that and present a challenge for us.”
The money they raise will help the charity’s Make it Better new wing appeal.
Full-time mum Clare Skill, 31, said she feels so lucky that things turned out OK after her two-year-old daughter Sophie swallowed a battery that burnt a hole in her lung.
Clare, who also has a 14-year-old daughter called Tiffany, said the small lithium battery came from a pack she had bought because her husband needed to replace a battery in his car fob.
Speaking today (SUN) from her home in Sheffield, South Yorks., Clare said: “She’s obviously managed to get hold of one in the packet, it was brand new and hadn’t been used.
“I had no idea she had swallowed a battery, I knew she had swallowed something because she was holding the back of her neck as if something was stuck, but I didn’t see anything go into her mouth.
“It wasn’t until we got to hospital we found out what it was. As soon as we got to hospital they did an x-ray, about 10 minutes after we got there, and that’s when we realised.
“So within two hours of me noticing something was wrong she was down in theatre.
“Everything was going through my mind at that point, how did she get hold of it, what’s going to happen, is she going to be alright?
“Honestly my heart was beating so fast, my heart was in my mouth, it was awful, really awful.
“It was just awful, the worst feeling ever, not knowing if she will be alright or what they are going to do.
“The acid burnt through her oesophagus and then it burnt though her lung as well.
“Within two hours of swallowing it the battery had already done the damage, it had already burnt through.”
Explaining about Sophie’s time in hospital, Clare said: “They knew the hole was there the day after because they did another x-ray and that’s when they realised the extent of the damage. Her lung had deflated and there was loads of air and fluid inside there.
“After a week they tried allsorts and it weren’t working so they took her down for a CT scan and that’s when they realised the hole was getting bigger and they had to do the massive open chest surgery on her.”
Clare said Sohie was on life support for six days, in ICU for three weeks and in hospital for a total of eight weeks.
Clare, who is married to tyre fitter Wayne, 32, wanted to highlight how great the care was at Sheffield Childrens’ Hospital, saying they were totally on the ball.
“They were excellent, absolutely fantastic.
“Things could have gone so different its not worth thinking about and I’m so pleased that we had fantastic surgeons.
“Sophie is back to her normal self now.”