A Texas mother is sharing her heartbreak after her baby’s death, which she says “didn’t have to happen.” She’s hoping her story can prevent other children from the same tragic fate.
Trista Hamsmith, a 39-year-old mother from Lubbock, Texas, suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when her baby, 17-month-old Reese, met an untimely but preventable demise. After losing her “bubbly” little girl, the grieving mother has since decided to speak out, hoping to save other parents and children from suffering the same tragic fate.
Trista first realized something was wrong when she noticed Reese, who was typically a lively character, began to wheeze, according to the NY Post. With Reese also suffering congestion and becoming lethargic, Trista took her to the pediatrician, where she was misdiagnosed with croup, an upper airway infection that generally affects children.
Sadly, it was something much worse that was causing Reese’s condition, which Trista would soon realize. Not long after Reese fell ill, the mother noticed that a button battery had gone missing from a remote control. The family raced Reese to a local emergency room, where doctors confirmed Trista’s fears — the little girl had swallowed the battery and it had burned a hole in her esophagus.
After realizing that the button battery was the cause of the child’s deteriorating condition, Reese underwent surgery — not once but twice. Not only did she require two surgeries, but Reese was also in and out of the hospital and ventilated under sedation. Sadly, it was all in vain, and two months after the initial surgery, Reese passed away due to complications from swallowing the battery.
After her initial surgery, Reese returned home. Several days later, however, she returned to the emergency room after more complications arose. At that point, Reese was placed on a feeding tube and sedated on a ventilator. She later underwent her second surgery, but her condition continued to deteriorate. She even required CPR twice after falling into distress.
“We found out that a fistula had been created, which is like a passageway,” Trista recalled. “There was a hole burned through her trachea and through her esophagus. When that tunnel formed, it was allowing air to go where it didn’t need to be. Food and drinks also went where they didn’t need to go.”
Although the first attempt at CPR prolonged her life, the second time was not successful. After two months of fighting for her life, little Reese passed away. Sadly, her story isn’t the first of its kind. According to Dr. Emily Durkin, the medical director of children’s surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, swallowed batteries can cause serious harm if they lodge in the esophagus, which has two narrow ends.
“If you get a narrow, flat, pancake-like button battery that gets stuck at one of these natural narrowings, then the front wall of the esophagus collapses against the button battery and the back wall,” Dr. Durkin told Today. “[This] completes that circuit, and the electric current actually flows through the esophageal tissues. And, when that happens, it starts to kill the tissues at the burn.”
Armed with this information, Trista Hamsmith is calling for action in hopes of preventing other children from the same fate. The grief-stricken mother is demanding manufacturers make safer batteries and calling on Congress to address the issue. She hopes manufacturers will make safer device covers as well. This would include battery-storage compartments that are secured by screws, adding a layer of protection for children.
“We just need safer batteries,” Trista said. “Kids are dying,” she added. “We’ve got to do everything we can to get this information to parents and put pressure on the industry to make changes to protect the kids,” the mourning mom continued. “This story needs to be told,” Trista pleaded. “It didn’t have to happen.”
Trista Hamsmith is doing her part to ensure her daughter did not die in vain, and thankfully, we can help. Reese’s story needs to be told because it didn’t have to happen. As unnecessary and tragic as her death is, it can serve a purpose, reminding others to take precautions and recognize the dangers these batteries present to innocent children, who don’t know any better. Help save a life. Share Reese’s story.