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Sam's button battery scare

There’s little sign of it today but just four months ago Teresa Pesic, a Sunshine Coast mother of three, feared her toddler son wouldn’t live to see Christmas  

On the morning of September 29 last year, 15 month old Sam was playing in the lounge room when Teresa’s quiet morning turned to chaos. The eldest of her three sons, nine year old Ben, called out that Sam had something in his mouth.

This was quite normal for Sam as everything goes in his mouth. I didn’t worry too much,”

Things quickly escalated when Sam swallowed the object. His older brother hadn’t seen what it was and noticing Sam’s distress Teresa took swift action.

I could tell it was stuck; he was dry reaching,”

Holding Sam’s head angled towards the floor and frantically patting his back, Teresa desperately tried to encourage the object out.

He was coughing and trying to bring it up, but was vomiting and gagging and Ben suggested we call the ambulance.

Teresa dialled triple-0 and an ambulance arrived shortly after. Looking for clues on what Sam could have swallowed, the Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic noticed a calculator on the floor. He opened the back and Teresa saw his face turn ashen. One of the batteries was missing.

“I didn’t think Sam could remove a battery and put the case back on, but we couldn’t risk it and had to assume the worst,” she recalled.

Sam was whisked off to Nambour General Hospital for an urgent X-ray, which confirmed their fears. A circular disc, about the size and shape of a highly toxic button battery showed up on the results.

Sam needed care from the best paediatric team available. It was then the Sunshine Coast-based CareFlight helicopter was urgently called to take Sam to Brisbane for emergency surgery.

“I was sick with worry for Sam but the CareFlight crew was so caring – they really helped me cope,” Teresa said.

“I just couldn’t believe this was all happening. I’d gone nine years without needing an ambulance for my boys and here I was heading to Brisbane in the back of a CareFlight helicopter. Sam vomited in the chopper and I knew he needed to get to hospital fast. I felt like we were in the best hands possible and getting to hospital the quickest way,” Teresa recalls.

Sam was rushed into surgery. After what seemed like hours, Teresa was greeted by the relieved surgeon holding a five cent piece.

“An overwhelming sense of relief washed over me. Everything was going to be fine.”

Teresa and Sam’s experience brings home how dangerous everyday household items can be. CareFlight can be there for your loved ones, at no direct cost to your family, should you ever need our help.

Today we need your help. Your donation to CareFlight’s Autumn Appeal will help save thousands of lives in 2015. Together we can airlift countless more innocent patients like Sam to urgent specialist care.

Since Sam’s ordeal, Teresa and her husband Scott can’t thank CareFlight enough. “We are extremely thankful to all involved, especially CareFlight. I’m shocked we don’t have to pay anything for this service – but wow I’m glad! We are happy to do anything we can do to support this wonderful lifesaving service.”

We hope you’ll support us too.