PEORIA, AZ - He’s got a smile that can light up a room, but unfortunately, 4-year-old Emmett Rausch and his family, who live in Peoria, haven’t always had a reason to smile.
“It was one of those feelings that as a parent, we just felt helpless,” explains Karla Rausch, Emmett’s mom.
Rewind to October 16, 2010. It was Emmett’s first birthday, but instead of fighting for an extra piece of cake, he spent it fighting for his life.
“I think the scariest moment was once the surgeon came out and said he’s in extremely critical condition and they weren’t sure how he would survive.”
Without his parents even realizing, Emmett had swallowed a lithium battery from the back of a DVD player remote. The battery burned a hole through his esophagus, leaving him unable to speak, eat or breathe without help.
“I never thought twice about my kids playing with remotes,” says Karla.
There have been hundreds of X-rays, 30 operations, and plenty of broken hearts.
“It wasn’t just a little bump or bruise that you can give your kid a hug and a kiss and move on,” says Emmett’s dad.
Despite their challenges, the Rausch Family looks for small victories. Two years ago, doctors in Cincinnati repaired Emmett’s esophagus with part of his colon, giving him the ability to eat some food through his mouth.
And on Wednesday, another milestone. Doctors will take part of his rib to repair his throat, hopefully one day giving him the ability to speak and breathe on his own.
Emmett’s medical team hopes this is the last major operations for a patient who’s never given up, and never let that beaming smile disappear from his face.
“He really has a fighting spirit to want to survive and be a functioning little boy.”
Karla and the rest of the Rausch family are taking action to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other children. In addition to partnering up with Energizer, Karla has also started a web page, EmmettsFight.com