We all have them in our homes: they're about the size of a nickel and one almost cost a little boy his life.
The Lacey family, who lives in Beulah, CO. wants to alert other families about these dangerous everyday objects.
When you see Brock Lacey, It’s hard to imagine that such a healthy-looking boy was once fighting for his life. All because of something so small.
“It was really scary to think that this was actually happening to us.”
Dana Lacey was terrified last year when she heard her 1-year-old son choking. It was a regular day off, she was doing house chores, and Brock was playing with his big sister, Zoey.
“I went right around the corner putting in a load of laundry and about 60 seconds it felt like, it was extremely quick that I heard him choking. So I ran in there,” said Dana.
Even 6-year-old Zoey remembers.
“It was so fast,” she said.
The choking quickly stopped and one precautionary doctor’s visit later Brock was back to playing and eating like normal.
Then, in the middle of the night things took a turn for the worse. Brock had a fever. That's when his mother knew something wasn’t right.
They rushed him to the emergency room where an X-Ray revealed a dangerous problem.
"I could just read it on her face that something was really wrong and it was just a matter of, 'Just please tell us what it is.'"
A lithium battery sat lodged in his esophagus. Twenty-eight hours later it was removed but the crisis was far from over.
"It was that time that they came out and the nurse gave me a bottle with a corroded black coin-looking item and I said, 'It leaked didn't it? And he said yes. And I said, 'How bad is it? And he said, 'It's black and it's burnt and I've never seen anything like it,'” Dana recalled as she held back tears.
Brock was flown Flight for Life to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, where he was in a critical care unit for a month.
The battery acid had burned a hole in his esophagus and leaked chemicals into his body.
That’s when Dana started asking questions no parent ever wants to ask.
“I had to know. I said, 'Do you think Brock is going to die?' She said, 'In my heart of hearts I don’t think he’s going to die but I don’t think you will bring home the same child you brought into this earth.'”
Dana says she just couldn’t wrap her head around losing a “perfectly healthy child.”
The month spent in the ICU at Children’s Hospital was emotionally draining for the Lacey family but they say they will never forget one particular surgeon.
“He said, 'Well, it’s a good thing he’s healed. I said, 'Do you? Do you really think he’s healed? We haven’t heard good news in so long. Is this it?'”
Dana still gets emotional one year later thinking about the moment she heard her little boy was healed but the battle didn't end the day they were discharged.
Once released from the hospital Brock still had to spend five months on a feeding tube.
Now one year later he is healthy and plays soccer with his big sister.
His parents have an important message for other families.
“Follow your gut. I struggle with that all the time. Wisha, coulda, woulda. Had I just followed my gut and taken him in sooner,” she says.
Dr. Brian Dodds is an ENT doctor at Parkview Hospital in Pueblo. He removed the battery from Brock’s throat.
“The sooner the better, if there’s any suspicion, obviously go right to the emergency room,” he tells 11 News.
It was a battery from a car key remote that got lodged into Brock’s throat. He will have some long-term complications: his left vocal cord is paralyzed but doctors say it won’t affect his ability to speak.
They also want parents to know just how many everyday items, like your kitchen timer or even some kids toys contain these small button batteries so no other family has to go through what they did.
“We just can’t imagine what life would be like without him.”
Children's Hospital in Aurora, Colorado sees about an average of 18 non-intentional button battery ingestions per year.
The family hopes one day those batteries will have a plastic coating, so if accidentally swallowed they at least won't leak chemicals into the body.