Louth toddler nearly dies after biting into liquid washing machine tablet

Warning: The toddler became seriously ill after ingesting the liquid from the tab
Warning: The toddler became seriously ill after ingesting the liquid from the tab

A young toddler in Louth nearly died after biting into a liquid washing machine tablet, her parents have said.

The parents of the 17-month-old girl were told their child could easily have died after ingesting the liquid inside a Surf liquitab. 

Jenny Maher, whose family are from Dunleer, spent two weeks in intensive care at Temple Street Hospital after the incident around three weeks ago. 

Her mother Sarah was speaking today in the hope that detergent companies will consider making their products less attractive to children.

She told Newstalk Jenny had managed to get a hold of one of the tabs and before she could take it off her had bitten into it. The liquid squirted into her mouth and down her front, her mother said. 

She gave her something to wash her mouth out but within 10 seconds she began vomiting. She then vomited a few more times before her concerned mother decided to bring her to Lady of Lourdes Hospital for assessment.

Speaking on Today FM, Sarah said she brought Jenny to the hospital but became more concerned on the way. 

"This happened at 2 o’clock. I would have been in the car with her at 2:15 and I’d say it was by 2:20 that she started making funny noises with her breathing in the car so I knew then that something wasn’t right."

She was sedated at the hospital in Drogheda as a tablet she was given had made it difficult for her to breathe. She was then transferred to Temple Street Hospital where she was placed on a number of different medications. 

Her father, Colin, told the Irish Mirror: “It was very serious and very scary.

“Her airways had closed up, [if we hadn't] got her to hospital so soon she wouldn’t be with us today.

“The doctors said it was one of the worst cases they saw, whether that was because of the amount she swallowed or how she reacted to it.

“She was brought to Temple Street and remained in the intensive care unit for a week with a nurse with her 24/7. She had to be sedated and was on nine different medications, including morphine, a relaxant, steroids, antibiotics and a drip.

They transferred her to a general ward and she was weaned off meds, she also had a throat specialist in with her.”

Mrs Maher told Pat Kenny she doesn't blame the manufacturers but is hoping they rethink the design of the packaging. 

Dad Colin added: “I was talking to a poisons expert in Beaumont Hospital and he said up to 200 kids a year swallow dishwasher or other tablets and they reckon Jenny was the worst case they’ve come across.

“A lot of these tablets look like sweets, they are bright coloured and look encouraging to kids so people need to be aware to keep them out of reach.