Mum's harrowing account after toddler dies swallowing button battery

Harper-Lee Fanthorpe and Stacy-Marie Niklin's Credit: BPM

A mum from Stoke-on-Trent whose daughter died after swallowing a tiny battery has spoken of her agony at her little one's death - and how she plans to fight on in her name to save other children's lives.

Stacy-Marie Niklin's two-year-old girl, Harper-Lee Fanthorpe, died in hospital after putting the small button battery in her mouth.The device, which had been easily removed from a remote control, caused Harper-Lee fatal internal injuries.

Now, 35-year-old Stacy Nicklin is campaigning for a change in the law to make sure Harper-Lee's death was not in vain.

Harper-Lee Fanthorpe Credit: BPM

"Harper would wake up between five and seven. She came down and had a little dance and a little sing, because that's what she loved doing. I asked her what she wanted on the telly and she made the Peppa Pig noise, because she couldn't say Peppa yet. She was with the girls and I went to get ready for work."Ms Nicklin went to work. But two hours later, a Facetime call from her daughter Jamie-Leigh alerted her to the fact that something was wrong."She turned the phone over, and Harper was lying on the sofa on her side, covered in blood."I rushed out of work. I only work at the top of the street, but by the time I got home Harper was being put into the ambulance."Harper-Lee was rushed to hospital and straight into the resuscitation unit.

Dr Anna Piggott told Ms Nicklin that medics wanted to insert a camera to see where the blood was coming from."By this point, she had gone very pale, had high blood pressure, and was still vomiting blood."But she was still talking. She asked for my phone and watched more Peppa Pig on YouTube Kids."Ms Nicklin walked alongside Harper-Lee's trolley as she was wheeled down to surgery. "I told her I loved her and said I'd see her soon. I gave her a kiss, and she went into surgery."The last thing she ever said to me was, 'Mummy, I need you'."The family then endured an agonising wait. Ms Nicklin says it was around two hours later that a surgeon came out and asked if Harper-Lee had swallowed anything."I said not that I know of. And that's when they told us they thought she had swallowed a button battery."

The size of the button battery. Credit: BPM

But then at around 10.50pm, medics came to ask Ms Nicklin and Harper-Lee's godmother, Auntie Anna, to go with them into the family room."He just looked at me, and I think I knew ... but it didn't really click. And then he just said 'I'm sorry'."I can remember just letting out the loudest scream, shouting 'No!'"Harper-Lee had passed away at 10.17pm on May 23. The button battery had burned through her oesophagus and a major artery."The past five weeks have been absolute torture," Ms Nicklin told us at her home in Abbey-Hulton. "I feel lost. I miss her so much. She was like my little shadow. Everywhere I went Harper was behind me. I couldn't even have a bath without her jumping in, fully-clothed."She wouldn't even sleep on her own. For two years we co-slept. Every day was just so full of laughter, full of giggles. She was such a little character. She made such a massive impact on everyone she met. She always made them cry with laughter."Everywhere is a permanent reminder now. Even just going to the shop, because everyone knew her there."Ms Nicklin said she and her daughters go to Harper-Lee's grave several times a day, "because where she's at peace, I'm at peace."

"Harper was one of those who, if you sat down, she'd say 'Mummy, I want this'. She wouldn't let you sit for a minute."The last five weeks, all I've done is sit down."I've never sat down so much, and I hate it."Ms Nicklin said she knew days after Harper-Lee's death that she had to do something to try to ensure no other child died the way her daughter had.When she began to research the dangers of button batteries, she was horrified to learn that deaths caused by them dated back as far as the late 1970s."They were all children under two. So why has nothing been done? They're in children's books - the ones that make the little animal noises - they're in greetings cards. They're even in children's toys. And if Harper could pull one out of a remote, another child can pullit out of a birthday card or a children's book."I've had people message me saying, 'Stacy, we've gone through our kids' toy box and we've found loose batteries at the bottom of the box'. That's how easily they are falling out.

"When I felt the remote control the next day when we came home from the hospital, I pulled it apart and there was no catch, no screw, nothing. It literally just fell apart."There are no warnings, nothing. They are so dangerous. I honestly thought when the surgeon told me about Harper swallowing the button battery that she'd be okay, because she was in the best hands."But it had done so much damage. "Ms Nicklin's message for other parents is a simple one: "Just check, check, and check again. I just wish it's what I had done."She added: "This is my focus now: to push and push and push to get something done. If not to see them banned, then to see them made more secure."I won't let my baby die for nothing."

To show your support, sign the petition here