Baby left ‘minutes from death’ after swallowing button battery as mum issues warning

Ralphie underwent three hours of surgery by two surgeons to have the battery removed after it appeared on an x-ray – now the toddler is being tube fed as the battery acid has damaged his windpipe and oesophagus

Little Ralphie is lucky to be alive after swallowing a button battery

A baby was “minutes from death” after swallowing a button battery.

Ralphie, one, is lucky to be alive after the small round battery started burning his insides.

Charity event organiser Hollie Phillips, 27, assumed her son had eaten cereal off the floor but within minutes he was crying and projectile vomiting.

A metal detector at the hospital came back clear but Hollie, from Watford, Herts., knew something was wrong with her boy.

Her instincts were proven right as Ralphie was just “minutes away from death” when the battery was spotted on an x-ray of his chest, leading him to be rushed to have surgery on his birthday.

This x-ray shows the button battery in Ralphie’s chest


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Now, Ralphie is being tube fed as the battery acid has damaged his windpipe and oesophagus.

Speaking from her son’s hospital bed, the mum-of-two said: “I went from planning my son’s first birthday to his funeral.

“He was drifting in and out of consciousness in the ambulance. And basically dying in my arms when we got there.

“I was terrified. If it had been ten or 15 minutes later, then he might not have made it.”

Hollie said she was more anxious about this procedure than when he has open-heart surgery when he was born.

She said: “I know children swallowing things all of the time but I don’t think they need to be surgically removed.

“With the open-heart surgery, I knew he was going to be fine as doctors are always doing it.

“I didn’t have a clue what the outcome of this one would be.“

Albie, left, with his brother Ralphie and mum Hollie


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The battery was successfully removed in the early hours of August 26.

Hollie is now warning other parents about what could happen.

She said: “We were discharged from the hospital on the evening as a metal detector didn’t pick anything up.

“But I knew something was wrong – it wasn’t a bug. His back was arched and he wouldn’t stop crying.

“I went back to the hospital as he was very lethargic, excessively dribbling and being sick.

Ralphie underwent surgery and is now fed through a tube after the battery acid damaged his windpipe and oesophagus


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“The colour had gone out of his face and he looked almost grey.”

An x-ray revealed a battery was stuck in Ralphie’s chest.

They were blue lighted to Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire and Ralphie was rushed into the theatre where he was in surgery for three hours.

Two surgeons were required to remove the battery via his throat.

She said: “Ralphie is being tube fed as the battery acid has damaged his windpipe and oesophagus.

“I didn’t think I had these batteries in the house but they are in a lot of toys. They aren’t screwed in and can just pop out.

“It is lucky that I saw Ralphie had something in his mouth but I couldn’t get it out in time.

“I do blame myself as I wish I had turned around a second earlier.

“I thought it would have been something harmless like a cheerio or something.

“But moments later, he was inconsolably crying followed by projectile vomiting.

Ralphie ate a button battery off the floor


Caters News Agency)

“It was brown and red with a very strong acid like smell.”

Hollie hopes Ralphie’s story encourages other parents to dispose of items that have button batteries.

She said: “They are in a lot of toys and they don’t require a screwdriver to remove.

“You can just flick them out which is very worrying.

“The batteries are small and shiny – they can be swallowed like a Smartie by kids. They shouldn’t be allowed in toys.

“I hope Ralphie’s story helps other parents spot the signs which include screaming, eyes rolling back, change of skin colour and brown vomit that smells like acid.

“I urge other parents to trust their gut and always get a second opinion.”