KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — When Johnathan Huff was born in January 2019, Jackie, her husband AJ and big brother Michael couldn’t be more pleased.
“It felt like it completed our family because we were happy with just the four of us,” 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’d 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 nose bleeds,” 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. On Dec. 20, 2020, four days after his nose bleed, Johnathan had a seizure and died suddenly. He was just shy of two 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 the button battery came from a remote which 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.”
Over 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.
And she won’t stop there. Huff advocates for button battery safety anywhere she goes, passing out flyers and information and hoping that sharing what happened to her Johnathan prevents it from happening to another child.
Get the batteries out of your home so that it’s not a danger anymore. Lock them up. Put them where your kids can’t reach them. Dispose of them in a safe way,” Huff said. “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 ER immediately.
Huff launched a website to continue educating parents, caregivers and medical providers about button battery injuries.