Lubbock mother turns tragedy into ‘Reese’s Purpose’

Lubbock mother turns tragedy into ‘Reese’s Purpose’

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - This follow-up after a tragedy in December is about to shake up our state and national lawmakers with a call to action. You remember, it started when a Lubbock toddler found something small and shiny and put it in her mouth... as children do.

Go back to the Pray for Reese Facebook page and it will break your heart to hear a video taken in December when Trista Hamsmith was comforting her baby, Reese, in the hospital.

The 18 month old had swallowed a button battery… and the surgery to remove it in Lubbock only solved part of the problem. Dr. Thomas McGill was the surgeon at University Medical Center who saved Reese initially by retrieving the battery. He says, “Button batteries are flat and have a positive and negative side. So when they go into the esophagus, they start generating electricity and that causes an electrical burn.”

Many health agencies have provided demonstrations inserting a button battery between ham slices. You can see it begin to burn through the ham in just 30 minutes. Trista said this about the damage in her daughter’s throat. “So we’re getting air and food in places where it’s not supposed to be. The hole was pretty large.”

Surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston tried to repair that hole but the damage was too great. Reese died 6 weeks after the battery was removed. It was Trista’s darkest hour. She calls it a living nightmare, if not for the support from friends, family and even strangers back home.

However, when this story went viral, there were some who blamed the Hamsmiths for being careless. That’s when Trista knew she needed to speak up to educate families and save other children from the same fate. She says, “It’s not a matter of watching your kid every second because by the time you walk the 5 feet over to them, it can be in their mouth already. It happens that fast.”

Trista says awareness needs to start with knowing where those batteries are. They’re in cell phones, musical greeting cards, toys, keyless fobs and flameless candles. In Reese’s case, the Hamsmiths later found a remote control with a broken battery compartment.

Trista says, “Unfortunately God’s plan was not what I would have wanted it to be but Reese does have a purpose.” ‘Reese’s Purpose’ is the name of a non-profit she has started now to make legislators listen. In her words, “Get a Safer battery. We have all this technology. It’s just time to put pressure on the industry to get something done.” And she wants button battery awareness taught in every medical school, along with fliers in every pediatricians office warning parents about the danger. She also wants to support other families who have been impacted by the same tragedy. But she says all that starts with something all of us can do to help:

“Please sign the petition. It’s change.org. As of now, she is the top story.”

Yes, little Reese Hamsmith is gone but her memory is about to shake up lawmakers in Austin. ‘Reese’s Purpose’ will then move on to Washington. With a new purpose in her voice, Trista says, “We will get that legislation passed. There isn’t a choice. If I have to go back every year for the rest of my life when they’re in session, I will.”

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