The mother of a 14-month-old boy who swallowed a battery in 2018 has spoken of her traumatic experience after her son Aaron swallowed a battery and how it took nine days for an X-ray to be carried out.
Yesterday, the High Court approved a settlement of €220,000 for the now six-year-old boy in a case taken against the HSE and GP Marie McGarry for negligence and breach of duty.
The HSE admitted a breach of duty, but the settlement was reached without admission of liability by Dr McGarry, who denied the claims.
Both defendants apologised for the treatment Aaron received.
Speaking to Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Marlena Sikorski said that she was sure her son had swallowed a button battery but when she sought medical advice, she was told that her son had a viral infection.
“I was saying that I think he swallowed the battery, and they were listening to his chest, and they obviously could hear the struggle there.
“And I was asking them. And they said ‘this is a viral infection’. And I said ‘are you sure there is nothing in his throat?’
“So, the doctors were turning to me and said ‘there is nothing in his throat’.”
She said that on one occasion when they were waiting on an X-ray to be carried out on her son, the nurse asked if Aaron was on any medication and when Ms Sikorski said that he was, she was told that the X-ray would not be carried out.
“Then the nurse came back to me and she said ‘mommy, is your son on any medication?’
“I turned around to that nurse and I said ‘yes, he was prescribed an antibiotic and some steroids by the GP’.
“So, the nurse had to go and say that to the doctor and a few minutes later she came back and she said ‘you’re going home’.
“And I asked ‘but what about the X-ray?’ and she said ‘there is no X-ray, follow the GP’s instructions and give your son plenty of ibuprofen and food and he will be fine’.
Ms Sikorski had already explained that her son was not keeping food down and he was having issues breathing.
At that point she said that the antibiotics and steroids were not working and “Aaron was getting worse and worse” and “getting weaker and weaker with every hour”.
She took him back to the GP where she was told again that it was a viral infection and maybe a bad case of croup and more steroids were prescribed.
Nine days after her son had swallowed the battery, Ms Sikorski said Arron was “very bad” and she felt he might die.
“He choke and it was so bad, I took him to the GP and again, same story, very bad case of croup, he was given inhaler and sent home.”
Ms Sikorski said that as she was leaving the GP surgery, Aaron went purple again and he went very floppy and he could not breathe.
She went back to the GP who put her son on a nebuliser and the GP then gave her a letter to attend the A&E because it was a very bad case of croup.
“So I took my son and I drove all the way down from Tuam down to Galway.”
She said the X-ray was finally taken nine-and-a half days later (after her son swallowed the battery).
She said the person who conducted the X-ray called her to tell her that they could see the battery on the X-ray and she said she was relieved when they found it.
“When they did the X-ray, you couldn’t miss the battery there.”
She said the X-ray was done just after 5pm and Aaron went to the theatre to have the battery removed after 9pm.
She said over the nine-and-a-half days, the battery did “horrible damage” to her son and he had to be transferred to Crumlin Children’s Hospital the following day.
“The battery burned its way from oesophagus to trachea” and “there was very high risk of internal bleed”.
She said after arriving in Crumlin, her son spent five days in ICU and three weeks on the ward in the hospital.
She said a number of MRI’s were carried out and doctors had to come up with a plan to make sure her son would survive.
“During that medical procedure, more than half of his trachea was removed because it was so badly damaged.
“His oesophagus had to be put together because it had a big hole in it.”
Asked how she now feels after the ordeal, Ms Sikorski said: “I have a son and I am glad he is alive.”