The mother of a toddler who is believed to have died after ingesting a Toilet Duck capsule has paid tribute to her ‘very funny’ and ‘really cheeky’ little girl.
Arietta-Grace Barnett, two, was rushed to Southampton General Hospital on June 28 last year after she began vomiting a ‘bright pink’ liquid. She was then discharged from the hospital on July 2, after her temperature fell and her sickness faded.
One week later she started bleeding, and died in hospital on June 9. An inquest at Winchester Coroner’s Court heard her death was thought to be the first case of its kind in the world.
A surgeon told the court the capsule may have caused fatal injuries to the toddler, although he was unable to confirm if the product was behind her death. A post-mortem examination confirmed Arietta-Grace had ‘an area of ulceration’ in her oesophagus.
Dr Sam Holden said: ‘The area between her right lung and chest wall and her aorta, these two structures should not have a connection between them, but they did.
‘As part of the investigation, I looked down a microscope to the area of ulceration and discovered there were mixed inflammatory cells which implies it was not something that had happened immediately but it had happened over a period of time.’
Mum Lucy Cook paid tribute to her daughter in court and described her death as ‘catastrophic’. She went on: ‘People say glibly I’m devastated by this, but actually until something like this happens you don’t really know the meaning of the word.’
She urged other parents to ‘perhaps think again’ if considering buying the same capsules for their bathrooms. She added: ‘This sort of gel-type thing is not seen as particularly toxic. Had I known obviously I wouldn’t have bought them either.’
A doctor had previously told how no one had seen Arietta-Grace consume the detergent, but her mum had seen her playing with the dispenser previously.
Dr Nicola Trevelyan said: ‘The child-proof lock had not worked as there had been a bit gouged out of it. Products that look like sweets will attract children to play with them.’
Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp recorded Arietta-Grace’s death as an accident, and said the child-proofing of Toilet Duck capsules would need to be improved.
She said the product had ‘definitely been tampered with at the top’ and noted that Ms Cook said this was done by one of the children.
The coroner also noted that the product’s ‘slow-release’ design could have made it more harmful, as it would have ‘sat there, low down and gradually breaking apart’ inside the toddler’s body.
A spokeswoman for SC Johnson, which makes the Toilet Duck capsules, said: ‘This is heartbreaking, and our thoughts are with the family. As it remains unclear exactly what caused this tragedy, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.’
World news – GB – Mum describes ‘catastrophic’ death of girl, 2, who swallowed Toilet Duck capsule