(WGHP) — When Johnathan Huff was born in January 2019, Jackie, her husband, AJ, and big brother Michael could not have been more pleased.
“It felt like it completed our family because we were happy with just the four of us,” Jackie Huff said.
Johnathan was an easy child. He was laid back and sweet amd life was good.
But on Dec. 16, 2020, while at daycare, Johnathan became sick. His symptoms included a bloody nose, blood in his vomit and lethargy.
EMS, his pediatrician and his medically trained parents– Jackie is a physician assistant and AJ is a paramedic — all agreed he would be OK.
“They looked at everything and looked at the situation and assessed him and said he got a nosebleed … probably the first of many nosebleeds,” Huff said. “He swallowed the blood, and he threw up.”
But over the next few days, Johnathan’s symptoms continued, and so did the visits to the doctor. Four days after his nosebleed, Johnathan had a seizure and died, just shy of 2 years old.
“Every step of the way, we got a vague symptom,” Huff said. “A negative COVID test. Negative flu. Chest X-Ray looked good. It just didn’t make sense until the autopsy.”
The autopsy showed that Johnathan had swallowed a small button battery. His parents had no idea it had happened but later determined that it came from a remote that controlled LED lights.
Button batteries are small but can cause major damage because of the burning chemical reaction created once it mixes with saliva or other moist skin tissue.
“You get warnings about knives and poisons and electrical outlets being covered,” Huff said. “But button batteries are not on that list. It’s not included with your pediatrician or really anybody.”
During the past 20 months, Huff has turned her heartbreak into action. In May, she shared Johnathan’s story with her colleagues at the National Conference for Physician Assistants.
“We actually were able to change the bylaws of the AAPA, and now the bylaws include that button battery education will be part of all the PA schools in the country,” Huff said.
However, Huff isn’t stopping there. She advocates for button battery safety anywhere she goes, passing out flyers and information and hoping that sharing what happened to her Johnathan can prevent it from happening to another child.
Get the batteries out of your home so that it’s not a danger anymore,” she said. “Lock them up. Put them where your kids can’t reach them. Dispose of them in a safe way. It’s not worth the consequences if a child gets a hold of it.”
If you suspect your child has ingested a button battery, call 911 and go to the emergency room immediately.
Huff launched a website to continue educating parents, caregivers and medical providers about button battery injuries.