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Remembering Baby Reese on Button Battery Awareness Day

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 11:05 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - June 12th has been designated Button Battery Awareness Day in memory of a Lubbock toddler who died from swallowing a button battery.

You may have seen this story.

We decided it’s worth repeating since the dedication on the 12th falls in line with “National Button Battery Awareness Week”.

That starts Sunday, June 13th, the day that would have been Reese Hamsmith’s second birthday.

For weeks late last year, Lubbock was drawn to a Facebook page for updates on a baby in trouble. Eighteen month Reese Hamsmith had swallowed a button battery and the surgery to remove it 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 dot org.”

Trista is asking everyone to go to change.org. Scroll down to Reese’s picture where you can sign the petition to secure stricter battery legislation. Already, it has collected nearly 75 thousand signatures.

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