This young schoolgirl turned into a real “piggy bank” when she swallowed two coins – one stuck in her for over a year before the other piled on top.
Paige Dowling’s parents only discovered her four-year-old had a penny stuck in her throat for months when she was discovered swallowing a pound that settled on the other coin in her throat, turning her throat into money box.
The little one had got the 1-pound coin from her great-grandmother while visiting, but instead of putting it in her pocket, she decided to swallow it.
Fortunately, eagle-eyed father Jayson Dowling spotted the tot, then two, making the deposit and alerted wife Kelly Dowling.
Concerned full-time mom Kelly called 111 and took the kid, who showed no signs of distress, to the hospital in June 2019.
There she was scanned with a metal detector and the staff discovered an object in her throat.
An x-ray showed two round objects piled on top of each other in her throat, and during a three-hour operation, perplexed doctors dug up a 1 pound coin balanced on a 1 pence piece.
The staff believed the penny cutting her esophagus had been in her throat for more than a year.
It had been there for so long that her esophagus had grown around her, forming a pouch that sometimes still trapped food.
Now at 23 months, Paige needs regular checkups and has to surgically remove two of her molars due to the corrosion the penny caused.
Kelly, who is also the mother of Bentley Dowling, 10, and six-year-old Mya Dowling, urges parents to always seek medical help if their child swallows something they shouldn’t, even if they aren’t choking.
Kelly of Bath, Somerset said, “When I found out that Paige had swallowed two coins and turned into a small money box, I couldn’t believe it.
“It was only because we noticed that she had swallowed the pound coin that the doctors noticed that the penny had been cut through her esophagus.
“The problem was that the penny was in for so long that the esophagus had grown around it, so it took the time.
“She had three hours of surgery to take it out because they wanted to get it out without cutting her esophagus any more.
“They think it’s been in for over a year, it’s insane.”
Kelly, 31, said she stopped by on June 25, 2019 with warehouse worker husband Jayson, 36, and three children to visit her Nan.
The infatuated great-grandmother gave each of the children 1 pound to pamper themselves with.
Instead of pocketing the money, for some reason little Paige decided to swallow it, which sparked the rush to the emergency room at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
Kelly said, “We went to my grandma, she always gives them 1 pound and Paige swallowed 1 pound.
“My husband was in the room with her while I was in the kitchen and he called me saying he thought she swallowed it.
“I looked around the living room hoping she’d get past it, but I also called 111 to make sure.
“They advised us to go to the hospital and there they put a metal detector on her.
“We were told if it was in the top half she would need an X-ray and if it was in the bottom half she could go home where it would happen.
“When they scanned her, the alarm went off near her neck, I was so worried.
“I just thought it went into her lower half and it could happen to her, but then panic stations set in.
“On the X-ray, they could see that the pound coin was a couple of inches down their neck, and then they saw a second object.”
Paige was given a blue light the next day at Bristol Children’s Hospital and got another X-ray to check if the objects had passed, but they were still there so the surgeons decided to operate.
During a three-hour operation, the staff discovered the coins stuck in her throat and subjected them to a delicate procedure to remove them without further damage.
Kelly said, “The next morning they took her to the theater which was absolutely horrible, it was the worst experience of my life to see her operated on.
“It was only during the operation that they saw the penny and the damage he had done.
“They discovered that the penny had cut through her esophagus, which then grew around her.
“The pound coin was on half the penny that was still in the esophagus, so if she had moved slightly, she would have stopped her breathing.
“It’s terrifying to think what could have happened.”
Due to the injury caused by the penny, Paige’s esophagus grew around him, forming a pouch called the esophageal diverticulum.
The pouch-like structure protrudes outward in a weak part of the esophageal lining and can cause food stuck issues, which Paige occasionally still suffers from.
Kelly said that Paige is still living with the aftermath of the incident, occasionally struggling with leftover food down her throat and dental problems.
Kelly said, “Paige still has problems with food getting stuck in the bag at times and went back to the hospital for a checkup.
“Since the penny was in there for so long, some of her molars are damaged.
“The dentist believes the metal from the penny caused this and she needs an operation to have it removed.
“She’s the toughest little monkey, she never moaned about anything.”
Since the accident, Kelly has been very vigilant about coins or small objects around the house that could cause harm if swallowed, but admitted that it had become easier to monitor the elderly Paige.
Kelly said, “Ever since this happened, I’ve been more vigilant about money that’s around, but it’s not just money, it’s something small.
“She would be given a doll and I would say, ‘No, she can’t have that, she has little shoes,’ but it’s much better now that she’s older.
“I would like to know how many kids are walking around with coins because we had no idea.
“The doctors said that in some ways it was good that she swallowed the pound coin and we saw it or she would still be walking around with the penny in her.”
Kelly shares Paige’s story to highlight how quickly such incidents can happen and to urge parents and caregivers to always see a doctor.
Kelly said, “If you find that your child has swallowed something, my advice would be to call 111 or contact A&E.
“I knew what 111 was going to say, I knew they would take her in, but I just needed that extra confirmation that I was doing the right thing. It’s not worth risking. “