By CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4)– Every three hours, a child is rushed to an ER after swallowing a button battery. That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Toddler Calvin Picker will have his ninth surgical procedure after one of those batteries got caught in his esophagus. The baby boy is lucky he survived.

(credit: RMHC)

“He likes to try to taste everything. That’s how we got into this,” explained Andrew Picker, Calvin’s father.

Calvin is a typical toddler. He puts everything in his mouth.

But Calvin’s choice on January 31, put him in the hospital, and what he swallowed nearly killed him.

“Gave us a fright of our lifetime,” said Andrew.

Andrew says it started when Calvin grabbed a remote control.

“Within 10 seconds, he had gotten the compartment open and put the battery in his mouth,” said Andrew. “I saw him swallow hard.”

(credit: Picker Family)

Calvin’s parents, Andrew Picker and Julie McCarthy, rushed Calvin to an ER where an x-ray showed the lithium battery, slightly smaller than a quarter, was stuck in the baby’s esophagus.

He was transferred to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children where doctors had to push the battery through to Calvin’s stomach and then surgically remove it.

It had already burned a large hole in the baby’s esophagus into his trachea.

Dr. Steven Rothenberg said Calvin went into respiratory failure.

“And nearly died from it once or twice,” said Rothenberg, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at RMHC.

He said Calvin’s case was the worst he’s seen. The one-year-old was kept paralyzed and on a ventilator while the tissues healed.

After 8 weeks, doctors removed the damage and made repairs.

“Other than a lot of bad memories for his parents, I think he’s going to do great,” said Rothenberg.

(credit: CBS)

He has the face of a cherub, but Calvin, dressed on this day as a tiny Darth Vader, nearly took his family to the dark side. It’s been a 15-week ordeal.

Calvin needs a feeding tube until he can swallow on his own, but everybody is ready to go home. There is a GoFundMe campaign to help the family.

Kathy Walsh