Tragic toddler died after swallowing battery in toy that ‘burnt hole in heart’

The parents of a toddler who died after swallowing a battery have issued a warning to parents of the dangers of button batteries in toys.

One-year-old Hughie McMahon died after swallowing an LR44 alkaline battery from a toy bear at Christmas.

When Hughie was rushed to hospital on Christmas Eve, doctors found his blood had become acidic and had burned a coin-sized hole into his heart.

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The Mirror reports that Hughie’s heartbroken parents Christine McDonald, 32, and Hugh McMahon, 29, later discovered that a battery had been missing from a VTech Swing & Sing monkey teddy toy, which had a sealed compartment with a screw to hold the battery in.

The family, from Motherwell in Scotland, said the decision to turn off life-support machines on Boxing Day was made once it was clear it was the only thing keeping him alive.

Hughie’s parents held their son in their arms as he passed away.

Christine told The Scottish Sun : “It’s a living hell. I felt my boy leaving. There’s no words on this planet to describe so much pain.

The type of battery – an LR44 alkaline battery – which got stuck in Hughie’s throat

“Nobody warned us about button batteries. I didn’t even know what they were but they’re in everything. I was more worried about bleach, falling downstairs and bumping heads.”

The devastated parents say they are now campaigning to stop tiny batteries from being sold.

Hugh added: “They’ve ruined our life and we want to make sure nobody else goes through what we have.”

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Scottish National Party’s Clare Adamson, MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, has said she will raise the issue in parliament.

Consumer watchdog Which? is now warning parents to take care that all products that use button batteries are properly secured or kept out of reach of children.

Many toys and home gadgets use button batteries and most are small enough to be swallowed where they can get stuck in a child’s throat.

Once a button battery touches a wet surface, it starts to generate a current and this can create a highly corrosive caustic soda which can prove to be fatal.

17-month-old Hughie McMahon suffered organ damage after swallowing a battery

Caustic soda is the active ingredient in drain unblocking fluid and powders.

If you think your child has swallowed a button battery, take them straight to A&E.

Which? said: “In the case of Hughie McMahon, who swallowed an LR44 alkaline battery from a Vtech Swing & Sing toy monkey, doctors at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital discovered his blood from him had become acidic, and a hole had burned into his heart from he.

“It’s not clear how Hughie accessed the battery as the toy has a battery compartment that requires a screwdriver to open.”

The watchdog said certain signs that a child has swallowed a battery include developing a cough, vomiting fresh, bright red blood, throat, chest or stomach pain, and a lost or reduced appetite.

“The best thing you can do to keep your baby or child safe from the dangers of button batteries is to check all toys have lockable battery compartments,” Which? added.

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“They should require either a screwdriver or other tool to open them, or have two individual movements that need to be operated at the same time in order to open the compartment.

“Look out for other items besides toys that might use button batteries, including key fobs, flameless candles, musical greetings cards, digital scales and remote controls, and keep them away from children.

“Keep stored batteries away from small hands, preferably in a high up or locked cupboard. Dispose of used batteries safely, as they can still cause injury, even if they’re flat.”

The Mirror Online contacted VTech for a comment.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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