Boy 'may never speak again' after drain cleaner horror

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A mother fears her son will never speak again after he drank drain cleaner in a supermarket when her back was turned while shopping.

Ayman Faisal was strapped in his buggy but as his mother Saira turned to pick something up, he reached out and grabbed the bottle himself off a low shelf.

The youngster, aged two at the time, opened the bottle and swallowed the cleaner, which contained caustic soda.

He suffered severe burns to his mouth, airway, oesophagus and stomach and was left fighting for his life in intensive care in a Manchester hospital.

Now aged six, the boy cannot speak and has to be fed through a tube in his stomach. His family are now suing the shop, Safa Superstore in Moss Side, Manchester, and the manufacturer of the drain cleaner.

Mrs Faisal says the bottle appeared to have a child lock top, but this did not work and the top could simply be unscrewed.

Both shop and manufacturer were unavailable for comment.

The 37-year-old, from Rusholme, Manchester, 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.'"

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 for six months after the incident in January 2013.

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.

His mother, who also suffered burns to her hands and feet, decided to speak out after learning another child had also been burned in similar circumstances.

She said: "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 too late to change what has happened to my son now, but I hope doing this will stop it from happening to anyone else."

Ayman can now only eat or drink special milk with all the nutrients he needs, administered via the tube in his stomach.

He cannot speak, but has learned to communicate with sign language or by using a 'talker' - a device similar to that used by scientist Stephen Hawking.  

Lawyers for the family say a two-year-old should not have been able to remove the cap of the bottle, supplied by manufacturer Active Brand Concepts Ltd, and that it should have been displayed on a shelf out of reach of children at the shop.

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."