Uncle of Scots toddler who died after swallowing battery to scale Ben Nevis in tribute


The devastated uncle of a toddler who tragically died after swallowing a battery will scale Ben Nevis in his efforts to raise awareness of the lethal dangers that button cells pose to kids.

James McMahon, from Lochgilphead in Argyll and Bute, will don a Spiderman costume when he takes on the 1,345-meter climb in July in memory of his nephew, Hughie.

The 30-year-old and his family were left heartbroken when 17-month-old Hughie passed away on Boxing Day last year.

The Motherwell tot had accidentally swallowed a button-type battery on Christmas Eve and was rushed to hospital in Glasgow where medics fought vigorously to save his life.



James describes the family’s grief as ‘crippling’

But after suffering three heart attacks, the ingestion of battery acid caused too much damage to little Hughie’s body.

The toddler sadly passed away in his parents’ arms the following day.

James has described the grief after losing his nephew as “crippling” but says raising awareness about the dangers of the batteries helps to ease the family’s pain.

He told the Record: “I don’t want any other family to go through what my family has been through.

“It was heartbreaking to watch my brother go through that, I have a son myself and words cannot describe that level of pain – it is crippling.

“The family has taken it really hard, as you could imagine, but I think that getting the word out there and raising awareness has helped us to get through it.”



Medics worked to save little Hughie's life, but sadly the ingestion of battery acid was too much for the tot's body to handle.
Medics worked to save little Hughie’s life, but sadly the ingestion of battery acid was too much for the tot’s body to handle.

James and Hughie’s mum and dad, Hugh and Christine, want parents to pay close attention to the objects that their children are playing with.

The batteries – which vary from five to 25 millimeters in size – can be found in a multitude of objects, including toys, remote controls, watches and key fobs.

James added: “Aside from being small and being very easy to drop, they’re in a lot of things that you wouldn’t normally think they are in.

“I used to give my wee one the car keys to play with but I wouldn’t dream of it now.

“If there is any item at all with batteries in it that I can see he is playing with, I take it off him and we want other parents to start doing this, too.

“I want parents to be mindful and to check any toys before the point of purchase.

“Kids will play with anything – it’s just in their nature – but I want mums and dads to keep a watchful eye on the stuff they’re picking up.

“These batteries are lethal and can actually burn through arteries and your throat. That is what tragically happened to our wee Hugie.”



Hugie's parents want to prevent other families from going through the same trauma
Hugie’s parents want to prevent other families from going through the same trauma

As the dad-of-one prepares to climb the highest mountain in the UK, he will coin in cash for a cause close to his heart.

“I’ll be raising funds for the Children Accident Prevention Trust,” he said.

“They do great work. If sharing this story can help even one family understand the dangers of these batteries, then it will be worth it.”

And, by dressing up as a Marvel character during the hike, James hopes to reach the eyes of children.

He added: “We’re going to dress up as Marvel characters so as kids can see the story and become aware of the dangers of these batteries.

“It might take one kid to turn around to their mum or dad and say, why are they dressing up like that? Then they understand the dangers themselves.

“Hugie was the most smiley, bubbliest and happiest wee boy. He was only one and a half but whenever you saw him, he always had a smile on his face.

“He was just so bright and full of life.

“I don’t want any other child to suffer the way Hugie did.”

You can donate to the family’s fundraiser by visiting here.



Parents are advised to secure battery compartments on gadgets and toys
Parents are advised to secure battery compartments on gadgets and toys

How to keep children safe from batteries

  • Store button batteries out of children’s reach and be careful when opening multi-packs to avoid any falling on the floor and being picked up by children.
  • Make sure the battery compartment on a gadget or toy is securely closed. Under product safety regulations, button and coin battery compartments on all consumer products must be designed to reduce the possibility of inadvertent removal by vulnerable people, such as children.
  • Even ‘flat’ batteries hold enough charge to be dangerous. Store ‘flat’ batteries well out of reach of children.
  • Talk to older children about the potential dangers, explaining why they shouldn’t play with button batteries or give them to younger children.
  • If you think a child has swallowed a battery, take them immediately to A&E or call 999 for an ambulance. If possible, take the packaging, toy or gadget to help staff identify the battery.

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www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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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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