Toddler ‘Lucky to Be Alive’ After Battery ‘Burned’ Through Her Lung

Mom Clare Skill said her 2-year-old daughter Sophie was playing at home when she noticed that something was wrong. Sophie went from agitated to crying excessively while holding the back of her neck. “She was so distressed, and I just knew she had swallowed something,” Skill told the Huffington Post U.K. Monday. “My heart was beating so fast.”

That day in July 2015, Skill rushed her daughter to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which is near where they live in the U.K. An X-ray revealed that Sophie had swallowed a small, button-shaped lithium battery, which was lodged in her esophagus. Within two hours of arriving at the hospital, Sophie was taken in for surgery to remove the battery. “As soon as they knew what it was, it all became much more urgent,” Skill said.

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The swelling in Sophie’s throat hid the fact that corrosive acid from the battery had burned a hole in her esophagus. After 24 hours postsurgery, nurses at the hospital noticed that Sophie wasn’t recovering as well as expected. The toddler then went through more tests and an additional X-ray, which revealed the hole in her throat and the fact that it had become infected. The X-ray also revealed that the acid had burned a hole in one of her lungs.

“I was just so scared, thinking the worst,” Skill said. “After a week, she had a CT scan and it showed the hole wasn’t healing and was in fact getting bigger because the acid was continuing to corrode her esophagus.”

Sophie in the hospital after swallowing a small battery.

The toddler was rushed to intensive care. To help her breathe, doctors inserted a “T” tube into her chest to drain excess fluid from her body. Sophie was also put on life support for six days. Doctors removed tissue from Sophie’s side and used it to cover the hole, allowing it to heal.

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“She was put under general anesthetic at least eight times during her eight weeks in hospital,” said Skill. “She was ventilated six times and spent three weeks in intensive care. It was petrifying seeing her like that. She was in pain, and I just wanted so much for her to be better. I realize now that if it wasn’t for the surgeon putting that ‘T’ tube in, she wouldn’t be here today.”

Sophie, who is “lucky to be alive,” was released from the hospital in September 2015 and is recovering well. After enduring this nightmare, Skill wants to share her story with others to raise awareness of the risks that small batteries pose. “I really want to make other parents aware of the implications of what can happen if your child gets hold of one of these batteries,” she told the Huffington Post. “I had no idea of the dangers, but now if I ever see one again it will be too soon.”

Photos: Chris Etchells/

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