'I feel so guilty': heartbroken dad tells of daughter's button battery death

Toddler Francesca died after swallowing a button battery.
Toddler Francesca died after swallowing a button battery. Photo: YouTube: Child Accident Prevention Trust

A dad has shared his family's heartbreaking story to warn parents about the risks of button batteries for children.

George Asan told how his 2-year-old daughter Francesca died in May last year after a small button battery she swallowed became lodged in, and burned, her throat causing internal bleeding.

"It's very hard for me to talk about losing Francesca," George, from the UK, said. "I hope that by talking about Francesca's death it will encourage other families to talk about accidents and ask questions about what they can do to stop them happening to their own children."

George has shared Francesca's story in a short film made with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT).

"I feel guilty," George said in the film. "Unfortunately we didn't see anything wrong, no signs. We found that it was a button battery and straight away I went to the cabinet and we had the 3D glasses for the TV. It was one of the spare batteries, in the original box of the glasses, which was in another box.

"I don't think in any parent's mind, this is the first thing they'd look for."

The film encourages parents to be informed and to help raise awareness to prevent similar accidents happening. This includes storing spare button batteries well out of children's sight and reach, and keeping any devices that take button batteries away from children unless they are secured with a screw.

Recognising that your child has swallowed a button battery can be challenging, and time of the essence.

"There are no specific symptoms associated with this," says the CAPT website. "[Your child] may appear to have a stomach upset or a virus. Symptoms may include tiredness, loss of appetite, pain and nausea."

If you even suspect your child may have swallowed a button battery, it's important to act quickly. Don't wait to be sure. Take them straight to your nearest emergency department or call 000 immediately.

If you have the product of the package the battery came from, take it with you. It could help the doctor identify the type of battery and make treatment more straightforward. Do not let your child eat or drink, or try to make them sick. It's crucial to trust your instincts and act fast.