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Canada

Cautious optimism from doctors about Sask. toddler's recovery after swallowing teddy bear eye

Hailey Wudwud was only a year old when she fell ill, sent to the intensive care unit because of one of her favourite toys.

The Regina toddler had swallowed a plastic eye from her teddy bear, which had been lodged in her throat so long it cut a hole in her airway and flesh began growing around it.

"I am scared she's not going to see her third birthday," said her mother, Karlon Wudwud, through tears. 

Hailey's parents had taken her in for CT scans and several X-rays before the item was finally noticed. It took a bronchoscope, a diagnostic technique to visualize Hailey's airway, from the child's mouth down to her stomach to catch the item.

The plastic eye that Hailey swallowed was the size of a nickel. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

Lance Payne, Hailey's father, recalled his daughter choking at one point, performing chest compressions before finally removing food from the girl's throat. She was breathing again and went on her way.

Payne said she gradually began having more and more trouble breathing and eating. Hailey was having increasingly aggressive coughing fits. 

"So we started treating her for asthma and we started checking for allergies ... and sore throats and throat infections, just trying to get a lead on something," said Payne.

"Unfortunately the breathing kept getting worse and worse and worse."

'You're supposed to know these things'

Lance Payne, Hailey's father, quit working so he could look after his daughter and four other children. The toddler now spends five hours a day hooked up to a feeding tube because she is unable to eat solids. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

It took two surgeries before the eye was successfully removed from Hailey's airway. 

"You have no idea what that feels like when you walk in there and your not-even-two-year-old is basically kept asleep with all of these meds," Payne said. "It was absolutely a humbling, awakening experience, very terrifying. 

"The entire family was taken by this and we were also pretty upset at the fact that we let it — we didn't know what was going on — I mean, you're supposed to know these things."

Hailey was in the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon for three months and will likely be going back in August for her next procedure.

Now two-years-old, Hailey can't eat solid food. She is fed her meals through a tube in her stomach five times a day. Each feeding takes an hour. 

Hailey has already undergone multiple surgeries but her throat is collapsing. 

Doctors optimistic 

It took two surgeries before the eye was successfully removed from Hailey's airway. (GoFundMe/Cyndi Gabora)

Doctors are going to use a graft from her stomach to reconstruct her throat. During the operation, one of her lungs will have to be shut down.

To be suitable for the surgery, Hailey must be in overall good health but she needs oxygen support frequently. 

Payne said Hailey's surgeon is optimistic about this procedure and said she should be eating by September.

The father said he is just hoping she'll be able to sit down at the table with her family to eat Christmas dinner. 

Hailey's parents told CBC they will consider contacting the toy company about the incident but for now that's on the back burner until their daughter gets better. 

Despite everything Hailey has been through, she's still in good spirits. The child is constantly smiling and laughing, although she still has to stop to cough. 

"I'm surprised this hasn't fazed her at all. Like something you read from horror stories, it hasn't fazed her," the child's mother, Karlon, said.

Hailey Wudwud, 2, was only a year old when she fell ill. Her parents didn’t know she had swallowed the plastic eye from her teddy bear. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)
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