An Indiana mother is speaking out after her toddler accidentally ate a button battery, hoping to warn parents of the potential household risk.
The quarter-sized battery was surgically removed in September after doctors said 1-year-old Mahziere likely swallowed it two weeks prior.
"He [the surgeon] brought me the battery and I broke down," mom Ta'Sha Garrett told "Good Morning America." "I knew the severity of swallowing batteries. I didn't think that would happen to us. I'm really careful when it comes to things like that."
Garrett said her son was healthy and behaving normally until one day when she noticed his breathing was off.
"That day I had picked his brother up from school and he was really lethargic," she said. "Everything about him was moving slow. He ended up sleeping on the car ride home."
When she got home, Garrett said she heard Mahziere whimpering in the other room. When she went to check on him, she saw bubbles coming out of his mouth.
Garrett said at the hospital, staff tried to administer a COVID-19 test, but she insisted they take X-rays instead.
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Mahziere was transferred to IU Health Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where medical staff weren't exactly certain of what he had swallowed until surgery.
"Up until then, I was pretty optimistic it wasn't a battery," Garrett said. "I don't have watches around the house."
Dr. Fred Rescorla removed a 22-milimiter lithium battery from the bottom of Mahziere's throat near his clavicle. He was then hospitalized for a week and a half.
"His mother, she's a great mom," Rescorla told "GMA." "She knew right away something was wrong...I was a little apprehensive when I went up to see her. When I approached her, she just wept. She never left his bedside."
Rescorla noted anesthesiologists had issues getting an airway during the bronchoscopy since the battery burned a hole in Mahziere's esophagus and caused some swelling.
The doctor saw three cases of children ingesting batteries two years ago.
Emily Samuel, program director at the nonprofit child safety organization Safe Kids Wordwide, said on average, more than 6,300 children go to the ER each year after having ingested a battery.
Children under the age of 5 are more likely to be seen in the emergency room for swallowing a button battery, and toddlers ages 1-3 are at the highest risk for swallowing.
"Younger children under the age of 5 are curious and they're actively learning and developing new skills," Samuel told "GMA," adding that children are also exploring their senses, including taste.
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Garrett said the battery that Mahziere swallowed was a battery from a watch. She learned this after Googling the serial numbers on the battery, she added.
She believes her son may have gotten a hold of it at a relative's house.
Her message to other parents is to be overly attentive to your kids.
"They move really fast. Even if you think you're watching them, you have to be mindful that kids move quicker than you," Garrett said. "If a lot of times people are watching your kids or your kids are going places, warn others what your child is capable of and getting into."
"It was definitely scary," she added. "I watched him from going to a breathing tube and not being [himself]. It's a very traumatic experience for the child and the parent."
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Here are tips on how to stay safe, according to Safe Kids:
- Keep greeting cards, remotes, cameras, watches, flameless candles and any other items that may contain batteries out of reach.
- Keep loose batteries locked away.
- Place a piece of duct tape to secure battery compartments.
- Search your home and any place your child goes for items that may contain coin-sized lithium batteries.
- Share this life-saving information with caregivers, friends, family and babysitters.
- If you have any doubts, bring your child to the hospital and request an x-ray.
According to Safe Kids, when a a button battery is swallowed, the saliva triggers an electrical current.
Symptoms of battery ingestion could be tricky to recognize but may include coughing, drooling and discomfort.
"If you think a child has swallowed a button battery, go to the emergency room right away," Samuel said. "No eating, no drinking and don't induce vomiting."
Samuel said parents can also call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline (800-498-8666) for additional treatment information.