Potential dangers lurk in water bottles

PHILADELPHIA - October 26, 2010

It could seem funny at first, but what happened to a local first-grader is serious and scary. Her family and even her doctors are telling other parents to be careful.

Six-year-old Mary Kate Person is home recovering after spending 4 days in the hospital. She says it all started Friday at lunch. She was drinking out of an aluminum water bottle.

"I was drinking water and then it just got stuck on my tongue," Person said.

Her father admits when he was told what happened, it seemed funny at first. But when he saw his little girl at the hospital, it quickly turned serious.

"She was in a lot of pain and she was really scared and there was no way. It wasn't coming off," Andy Person said.

Doctors at Paoli Hospital cut off the end of bottle and realized exactly what they were dealing with: Mary Kate's tongue was severely swollen and it had the potential of cutting off her airway. She was flown by helicopter to A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children' in Wilmington.

"We were all taken aback by the appearance of it for sure," said Dr. Robert O'Reilly.

O'Reilly, a pediatric ear, nose and throat doctor, says she was taken immediately to the operating room where she was put under anesthetic as a team of doctors worked to get Mary Kate's tongue unstuck.

"The difficult part of it is the neck of the bottle where the threads are for the cap is brass and quite thick," O'Reilly said about the operation. He added that special tools were used to cut the rest of the bottle off. Then Mary Kate needed a breathing tube to make sure her airway stayed open. She stayed in intensive care for three days.

Dr. O'Reilly says anyone can get their tongue stuck in any bottle, but the aluminum bottle with grooves inside the neck acted almost like a noose around her tongue.

"Depending on how sharp they, are if you get it in, it will grab so you can't pull it out," O'Reilly said. "Clearly people need to be aware that this is a potential danger."

Mary Kate still has bruises and cuts inside her mouth, but she's feeling better now and happy to be home with her siblings.

Her father says they're throwing out all their aluminum water bottles with metal grooves at the neck and he's warning other parents about his family's incident.

Dr. O'Reilly says he's only seen one other case like this, but it was not the same type of water bottle and it was not as severe. The distributor of the water bottle gave us a statement:

" PrintGlobe has a 100% commitment to carrying products that meet current safety and environmental standards. All of us are saddened and concerned to hear that one of the aluminum water bottles we distribute was involved in the injury of a child and we wish her the very best in her recovery. Prior to this accident, we had not heard of an incident of this nature happening with any of the water bottles we distribute. While that particular aluminum water bottle is a product widely sold by other promotional product companies across the country we have decided to immediately remove this bottle from our product catalog, pending further investigation.
-PrintGlobe, Inc"

We also called the *manufacturer of the water bottle, TJ Promotions Corporation. They did not return our call for comment.

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