Two years ago, Tyler McLamb was a typical 3-year old boy – running around, playing and getting into absolutely everything. He spent his days doing what most toddlers do – running around and putting just about anything they can find in their mouths.
In March 2019, Tyler started not feeling well with what seemingly appeared to be a virus. He had a sore throat, loss of energy and didn’t want to eat or drink much. His parents, Carrie and Joshua McLamb took him to a local urgent care where doctors didn’t find anything wrong, and Tyler was sent home. A few more days went by, and unfortunately, Tyler’s symptoms didn’t improve. His mom, Carrie, started to get really concerned – so they went back to urgent care for a follow-up visit. This time, the doctors did an x-ray that revealed Tyler had swallowed a small watch battery – and they sent him immediately to WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department.
The McLamb’s WakeMed Children’s Journey
Upon arrival, Tyler was evaluated in the Children’s Emergency Department and then taken to surgery to have the battery removed. He was then admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for recovery, but the next morning, Tyler’s condition began a rapid decline. Surgeons found that the battery had eroded Tyler’s esophagus and into his trachea, which was making it hard for him get enough air into his lungs. He was put on a breathing tube and sent off to surgery – a major procedure that took nearly 10 hours and required a team of highly-specialized adult and pediatric surgeons.
Thankfully, he was stable after the surgery, but this was just the beginning of Tyler’s journey to recovery. From there, Tyler and his family remained at the WakeMed Children’s Hospital for nearly four months during which time he endured nearly a dozen procedures and months of treatment and rehabilitation. He stayed on a feeding tube for approximately six months, which left him needing help learning how to swallow and eat again. By fall 2019, Tyler’s feeding tube was finally removed and he made a full recovery.
Tyler’s WakeMed Family
Throughout Tyler’s stay and treatment, the nurses and doctors became like the McLamb’s second family. Carrie was able to work remotely from Tyler’s hospital room, and she and her husband Joshua took turns staying at the hospital and going home to be with their other two children, Emily (age 18) and Savannah (age 8).
“It was a rough year for our family, but the doctors, staff and child life specialists at WakeMed Children’s made us feel so at home and well-cared for that we almost enjoyed being here,” explains Carrie McLamb. “We feel so fortunate to have had such incredible surgeons and nurses by our side every step of the way. We cannot give enough thanks to the many doctors, nurses, child life and staff in the PACU and main floor for the love and care they have provided for Tyler each and every time we have been there. Dr. Hoover and his staff are extraordinary and no doubt saved my son’s life. We are forever thankful!”
A Very Happy Holiday
Today – nearly two years later, Tyler is a healthy five-year-old boy. His mom says he’s back to his usual, playful self. He loves running outside, watching Paw Patrol, and is gearing up for kindergarten in the fall of 2021.
“As of today, Tyler is pretty much back to normal. He loves to run around and play just like he did two years ago. Every slim once in a while, he’ll get something caught in his throat, but other than that – he’s back to himself and we are so grateful for that.”
This holiday season, the McLamb family is look forward to a Christmas that will be full of joy and their usual holiday traditions – without worrying about what Tyler can eat or how he’ll be feeling. He’s ready for a visit from Santa and a holiday meal!
Sharing Their Gratitude, Raising Awareness
The McLamb family wanted to share their gratitude with the WakeMed Children’s Hospital and also bring awareness to the dangers associated with swallowing batteries – a danger they were unaware of before Tyler’s incident.
“Unfortunately, Tyler isn’t the first child we’ve seen with life-threatening injuries due to ingesting a battery – we probably see a few cases of battery ingestion every month,” explains Dr. David Hoover, pediatric surgeon with WakeMed Physician Practices – Pediatric Surgery. “Young children love to put everything in their mouths – and batteries are the most dangerous of all foreign objects we see kids swallow. They’re shiny, just the right size and because of the current in the battery, they can cause a chemical reaction between the esophagus lining and the battery’s remaining current. This reaction leads to a burn that can erode the esophagus and lead to serious, life-threatening problems if not treated immediately.”
“We’re so thankful Tyler’s diagnosis was made in time and that WakeMed Children’s Hospital is right here in Wake County – allowing us to stay with Tyler and our family without having to travel. Finally, we’re grateful to have expert pediatric surgeons who immediately knew what to do to save Tyler’s life and help him recover.”
The WakeMed Children’s Hospital was funded by the WakeMed Foundation, WakeMed’s philanthropic partner.
About Love Light
WakeMed’s annual Love Light tree lighting ceremony began in 1985 with the generosity of Dr. Bill and Colleen Lee, who donated the first Love Light tree in memory of their son, Matthew William Lee. Today, the annual tree lighting ceremony continues with the ability to make Love Light donations in honor of someone special.