A baby was left fighting for his life after swallowing a button battery that he managed to prise out of his mother's scales.
Ollie Lennon started vomiting black liquid as his insides were burned by a corrosive alkali substance from the battery.
According to PA Real Life, who first spoke to his distraught parents, Chrissy and Elliott Lennon, doctors initially told them the symptoms could be caused by asthma or croup, but they called 101 (non-emergency services) when the one-year-old's condition worsened.
The couple kept an eye on Ollie at their home in Worthing, West Sussex, but he was still unwell the next morning on 30 May.
It was only when 29-year-old Chrissy went to weigh herself that she discovered the button battery was missing and realised what had happened.
She took her baby boy to hospital, where an X-ray showed the battery lodged in his lower throat, prompting doctors to perform emergency surgery.
But after surgeons feared the battery had reacted with Ollie's body fluids and burnt his insides, the youngster was rushed to the larger Southampton General Hospital 50 miles away.
Scans later revealed scarring and burns to his trachea, where a hole had formed causing his left lung to collapse. Doctors then moved the child for a second time to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where they could operate.
"He was given a one in 10 chance of survival," father Elliott told The Mirror. "It was, hands down, the worst day of both of our lives. We were told, quite honestly, he could die. Seeing or little boy so ill was dreadful."
The operation was a success but Ollie spent weeks in hospital recovering, only coming home in mid-July – nearly two months after he was first admitted.
While he is currently recovering with his loving parents and three-year-old brother, the long-term impact for Ollie is not known.
"Now he can't eat solids, so we are liquidising everything," said Elliott. "He can also only groan. However, he is alive. And that is brilliant."
In an emotional Facebook post, Chrissy wrote a warning to other parents about the dangers of button batteries.
"A couple of weeks ago we were celebrating Ollie's first birthday ! Now he's lying in a hospital bed, attached to lots of cables and this morning was on a ventilator," she wrote on 31 May.
"Don't let what we are going through happen to anyone else !! I knew all the warnings and still could not protect my son. Kids put everything in their mouths and no matter how guilty I feel I couldn't have done anything, without having eyes in the back of my head."
She called for "dangerous" button batties to be banned, saying "they can make harmless ones".
The couple have arranged a charity football match to raise money for GOSH, who they say "saved Ollie's life".
Last year, British surgeons warned of the dangers button batteries posed to young children.
GOSH said a decade ago they rarely treated button battery injuries to children, but revealed there has since been a dramatic rise – with their doctors seeing about one case a month.
GOSH surgeon Kate Cross said: "If the battery gets enveloped in the mucosa of the oesophagus it creates an electrical circuit and the battery starts to function, releasing an alkali that is like caustic soda, which can erode through the wall to the windpipe."
She added: "Button batteries should be treated like poison and kept out of reach of children."
What to do if your child swallows a button battery (source: Great Ormond Street Hospital)
- If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, you should take them to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department as quickly as possible.
- Do not give them anything to eat or drink or try to make them sick as this could cause damage as the battery is vomited back up as well as the damage it caused when swallowed.
- If possible, try to find out what sort of battery your child swallowed but do not delay taking them to hospital if you cannot immediately see what they have swallowed.
- Sometimes, symptoms of swallowing a button battery do not become immediately obvious. Children may have breathing difficulties or be generally unwell. If the swallowed button battery starts to cause problems, children may cough up or vomit blood. Batteries inserted into the nose or ear can also cause problems, such as nose bleeds or bleeding from the ear.