A tiny torch battery was responsible for the tragic death of a little one year-old baby.
Eliza Bashir died even though surgeons at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital operated to remove the battery which had lodged in her oesophagus, the tube that carries food down to the stomach. Eliza’s parents assumed that the battery would pass through her system, but when there was no sign of it the following day, they took Eliza to the A&E department of the Royal Oldham Hospital. The little girl was then transferred by ambulance to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for surgical intervention.
An inquest into Eliza’s death heard how the battery burnt through the wall of her oesophagus, either from leaking battery acid, or by forming an electrical circuit. The burning carried on through a wall of one of the major blood vessels. Once the artery was compromised, Eliza bled to death eight days after swallowing the tiny power cell.
In a tragic twist, Eliza died because one of her major arteries ran alongside her oesophagus, a morphology evident in only 1% of the population and something neither her parents or the hospital staff could have known.
The inquest heard how Eliza’s mum, Naheed Bibi, had turned her back for just a moment in order to pick up a bottle of milk; in that split-second, her daughter swallowed the button battery which had come out of a small torch that her parents had purchased at B&M Home Stores, Chadderton and that her son had been playing with.
Five days after surgery had removed the battery, Eliza’s heath rapidly deteriorated and she began to bleed from her nose. She was rushed back to the Royal Oldham Hospital but despite the efforts of the medical team, she could not be saved. Her mother said: “I was screaming and crying. The colour in her face just started to get darker and darker and then blood started gushing from her nose.”
Eliza’s heartbroken parents want other mums and dads to be aware of the dangers of tiny batteries. Eliza’s father, Mohammed Bashir, said: “It is really important that we spread the message to other parents and make sure nobody has to go through what we have been through.”
The inquest’s coroner Simon Nelson has decided to write to the Department of Health to ask them to highlight harm that batteries can cause if swallowed, especially to children. He said: “I believe that prevention and precautions need to be extended to include child-resistant packaging for batteries. One fatality is one fatality too many.”