Toddler ‘lost half blood in body’ and died after swallowing ‘5p-size’ battery

A two-year-old girl lost "half the blood in her body" and tragically died after swallowing a small button battery the size of a 5p piece which her family believe came from a remote, an inquest has heard.

Harper-Lee Farnthorpe started vomiting blood and was rushed to accident and emergency, where she underwent emergency treatment and surgery.

Medics battled to save the tot and she was given nine units of blood – up to two litres – before being taken in for surgery.

Little Harper-Lee was operated upon, but the intervention of surgeons was ultimately in vain and she tragically died during the surgery, StokeonTrentLive reports.

A statement from her mum, Stacey Nickin, was read out at a hearing held on Wednesday, June 16.

In it, she recounted how she had hurried home to find paramedics working on her young daughter.

"Harper-Lee was into everything and developing well, there were no concerns for her," she said.

"She was full of life and loved by everyone."

Stacey said her daughter did have a "tendency to put things in her mouth".

"She ate lunch with her sister. My older daughter was with her and I went to work," she said. "Half-an-hour later I received a call from my daughter, she said she had called an ambulance because Harper-Lee was vomiting blood.

"I got home and there was an ambulance.

"She was taken to surgery and I was later told she had passed away while in surgery. I was told she may have swallowed a button battery."

Stacey added: "When I went home I found a remote in my daughter's bedroom missing a battery."

The incident happened at the family home in Abbey Hulton, a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent, last month.

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Dr Anna Piggot, a paediatrician at Royal Stoke Hospital, described Harper-Lee's injuries to the court.

She said: "She had high blood pressure and looked pale. There was blood in her mouth. She had lost half of the blood in her body.

"This was likely to be a button battery. The button battery had already expelled from her body."

Dr Piggot added: "There were ulcerated lesions in the mid-oesophagus and a large red mark in the stomach which was a blood clot.

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"The button battery caused erosion to the oesophagus. The leaked battery acid remained in her body."

North Staffordshire senior coroner Andrew Barley said Harper-Lee's death, on May 23, had been an accident. The cause of death has been given as "1A arrhythmia and 1B the complication of a haemorrhage".

Mr Barkley said: "There is a very clear concern about this in public health. It has affected lots of children."

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Steps to take to keep your child safe:

  • Store spare batteries securely, out of reach;
  • Know which toys or gadgets use button batteries, check your home;
  • Get rid of 'dead' button batteries immediately – they still have enough power to harm children;
  • Teach older children the dangers – why they shouldn’t play with them or give them to younger children;
  • Place strong tape over the battery compartment on remote controls.

If you think your child has swallowed a battery take them straight to A&E or call for an ambulance.

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