Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mom Shares Grave Warning After Toddler Dies from Horrible Accident


Fall and winter bring with them the cold and flu season. It’s something every parent dreads and the season’s arrival took on new meaning last year as COVID-19 ran rampant.

In October, a 17-month-old named Reese from Lubbock, Texas, was lethargic, wheezing, congested and stuffy — symptoms that all pointed to croup, which is what the girl’s pediatrician said, too.

But shortly after receiving the diagnosis and being sent home with instructions for her daughter to rest, mom Trista Hamsmith noticed something that terrified her.

A button battery was missing from one of their remote controls. Suddenly, little Reese’s symptoms pointed to a much darker cause.

Reese was rushed to an emergency room where an x-ray confirmed that the battery was lodged in her throat.

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“They did an X-ray and confirmed that it was in there and they did emergency surgery to remove the battery,” Hamsmith told NBC’s Today.

“Once the battery is ingested, it starts to erode and it starts to burn. Button battery ingestion is so much more common [than] people realize.”

What followed was a series of complications that ended in heartbreak. At times, Reese seemed to be doing well, but the battery had created too much damage.

“We found out that a fistula had been created, which is like a passageway,” Hamsmith explained. “There was a hole burned through her trachea and through her esophagus. When that tunnel formed, it was allowing air to go where it didn’t need to be. Food and drinks also went where they didn’t need to go.”

In early December, Reese went in for surgery.

“The surgery went great and then from there it was just more waiting, more resting, more healing,” her mother said. “A few weeks later they tried to take her off the ventilator and she did great.”

Shortly after, Reese almost slipped away — but she held on until Dec. 17, when she coded again.

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“I started praying,” Hamsmith recalled. “She coded again. They did CPR, all of the things, for about 30 to 40 minutes. I had never prayed so hard in my life or begged God like that.

“We just didn’t get her back.”

Many children have lost their lives to the seemingly innocuous button battery. It’s just the right size and shape to get stuck in toddlers‘ throats and cause serious damage.

“If you get a narrow, flat, pancake-like button battery that gets stuck at one of these natural narrowings, then the front wall of the esophagus collapses against the button battery and the back wall,” Dr. Emily Durkin, the medical director of children’s surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said.

“(This) completes that circuit, and electric current actually flows through the esophageal tissues. And when that happens, it starts to kill the tissues at the burn.

“It can be just a devastating injury for a child. It can require operations and having to be fed with a tube. The button batteries that are the most dangerous are typically the ones that are about the size of a nickel or a quarter. Those are the ones that I think shouldn’t be made.”

Hamsmith is using her tragic story to warn parents and try to make it so button batteries are less accessible to those they can hurt the most.

“Kids are dying,” Hamsmith said. “We’ve got to do everything we can to get this information to parents and put pressure on the industry to make changes to protect the kids.”

“We always knew Reese would do big things in this world,” the girl’s mother wrote on Facebook.

“Her Earthly battle may be over, but her true battle, her true plan, and her true purpose has just begun.”

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