A mum whose son suffered horrific injuries after swallowing drain cleaner says she fears she may never hear his voice again.
Six-year-old Ayman Faisal cannot speak and has to be fed through a tube in his stomach, but mum Saira knows he is lucky to be alive.
The youngster was just two-and-a-half years old when he drank from the bottle containing caustic soda, after picking it up off a shelf in a shop while his mum’s back was turned.
The toxic substance caused severe burns to his mouth, airway, oesophagus and stomach and left him fighting for his life in intensive care.
Saira, 37, from Rusholme, Manchester, describes what happened as ‘the worst day of her life.’
She said: “I was on my way home for lunch when I realised we needed a couple of things so called into the shop.
“Ayman was strapped into his pushchair and I was reaching to get something. It was only for a few seconds, but when I turned back I saw his lips had gone purple and blue and there was blood coming out of his mouth.
“I didn’t know what it was or what had happened at first, I just knew it was something bad.
“I remember screaming at the staff to phone an ambulance while I tried to get as much as I could out with my hands.
“I was terrified. All I kept thinking was ‘please don’t let me lose my son.’”
Following the incident in January 2013, Ayman was taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he spent around a month in intensive care. He was then moved to a general ward where he remained until July.
Doctors had to put a permanent tracheostomy tube in his neck so he could breathe and a feeding tube in his stomach to enable him to eat.
Saira, who also suffered burns to her hands and feet, said: “I was frightened of leaving him in case anything happened.
“I couldn’t even hold him for the first few weeks and that broke my heart, but slowly he started to show signs of improvement, one tube came out and then another.
“Eventually he was moved to a general ward and I think it was only then that I started to believe he might survive.”
Saira has now launched legal action against the manufacturer, Active Brand Concepts Limited, and the owners of SAFA Superstore, the shop on Claremont Road, Moss Side, where the incident happened.
Lawyers say a two-year-old should not have been able to remove the cap of the bottle and that it should have been displayed on a shelf out of reach of children.
Saira, who decided to speak out after learning of another child who had been burned by caustic soda, hopes her story will serve as a warning to other parents.
She added: “While Ayman was in hospital, I was told of another child who had been brought in after being injured by the same product.
“It’s horrible to think of someone else suffering like he did, I wish I knew how they were.
“It’s too late to change what has happened to my son now, but I hope doing this will stop it from happening to anyone else.”
The only thing Ayman can now eat or drink is special milk with all the nutrients he needs, which is administered via the tube in his stomach.
He cannot speak, but as he has got older he has learned to communicate with sign language or by using a ‘talker’ – a device similar to that used by scientist Stephen Hawking.
Saira, who had to be taught how to feed him and change his tracheostomy, added: “His ‘trache’ can get blocked at any time.
“If it’s in the daytime he will let me know, but I check on him every few minutes at night in case it happens when he’s asleep.
“I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since it happened. He had an incident where his trache got blocked and he fainted, so I like to keep a very close eye on him.
“It is hard sometimes, but I have to be strong. I don’t want Ayman to see me crying.
“He has been through so much, but he never complains and I am so proud of him.”
Alicia Rendell, a serious injury specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, who is representing the family, said: “It is hard to imagine how devastating this has been for Ayman and for Saira to see her only child go through such pain and suffering.
“We have also been approached by another mother who says her daughter suffered severe burns after she was able to open the same product.
“This is extremely concerning and we would urge everyone with young children in the house to check that all substances like this are in childproof containers and stored well out of harm’s way.”