New parents Karla and Michael Rauch tried to think of every scenario possible when baby-proofing their home. However, they never anticipated that a DVD remote control would bring a future filled with multiple surgeries for their 1-year-old toddler.
Right after Emmett's first birthday party, he was feverish, lethargic, and cried when fed. Initially, their pediatrician thought it was a cold. However, once Emmett began coughing up blood a few days later, he was taken to the ER. X-rays showed the little toddler had ingested a lithium ion button battery that became lodged in his esophagus.
The back of a DVD remote control had fallen off, exposing the battery to prying little fingers.
On Karla's blog, she documented Emmett's stay in the hospital, stating:
"Watching you lay so sick, helplessly and so full of pain on the bed in the Pediatric ICU. I beat myself for not knowing that you had swallowed such a heinous and abhorrent object! I ache at the thought that it was burning you so fiercely inside your sweet innocent body!!!"
Karla was certainly beside herself, and wished she could have foreseen the dangers of button batteries.
After surgery to remove the battery, the news got worse. The battery acid had burned a hole through his trachea, and he could no longer breathe on his own. His esophagus was surgically rerouted to the side of his neck, and the other end attached to his stomach. This allowed him to breathe, but he was hooked up to a feeding tube for 100% nourishment.
Even after he was sent home, he needed weekly physical, occupational, and speech therapies. For the next 5 years, he had to undergo 65 additional surgeries due to complications from his initial injuries. He can now breathe on his own, but he's lost functional use of his vocal cords.
Positive outcomes don't always follow tragedy. However, in this case, Emmett's parents have created an awareness campaign about the dangers of button batteries. Their campaign is succeeding, as they are receiving responses from around the world.