A Texas mom is speaking out about her heartbreak after her daughter tragically died from swallowing a battery.
Trista Hamsmith says she's sharing her daughter Reese's story in hopes that it will prevent other children and parents from experiencing the same tragedy.
"In the past year alone, there has been a 93% increase in ER-treated injuries for young children due to button batteries," the grieving mom tells PEOPLE. "We can prevent this from happening with new laws and safety regulations and increased education for medical professionals and parents."
"I had a plaque in the hospital that read, 'He has a plan and I have a purpose,'" she adds. "Through sharing her story we can save lives — that's Reese's purpose."
Reese was just 17 months old when she swallowed a tiny button battery from a remote control, Hamsmith told Today Parents.
The battery eventually eroded and burned a hole in Reese's esophagus, which ultimately killed the toddler on Dec. 17, according to the outlet.
"Button battery ingestion is so much more common than people realize," Hamsmith told Today. "This story needs to be told. It didn't have to happen."
Prior to Reese's tragic death, Hamsmith said her daughter — who "demanded applause" and "captivated the room" — had been wheezing and experiencing congestion and lethargy, according to Today.
A visit to the pediatrician at the end of October determined that Reese likely had croup. The toddler was given medication and told to return if her condition worsened, her mom told the outlet.
Not long after that doctor's visit, Hamsmith said she noticed the battery button was missing from the remote control and immediately rushed her daughter to the emergency room.
"They did an X-ray and confirmed that it was in there and they did emergency surgery to remove the battery," she explained to the outlet.
A few days later, Reese went back to the emergency room after her condition declined, Today reported.
It was then that Hamsmith learned that "a fistula had been created" in her daughter's throat, which she explained "is like a passageway."
"There was a hole burned through her trachea and through her esophagus," she told Today. "When that tunnel formed, it was allowing air to go where it didn't need to be. Food and drinks also went where they didn't need to go."
To help Reese receive nutrition, doctors gave her a gastronomy tube, and she was later sedated on a ventilator, according to the outlet.
"That morning was the last morning that we saw her as herself," Hamsmith told Today, noting that the toddler's condition was unstable from that point.
In early December, doctors performed another surgery on Reese to repair the fistula.
Though she initially showed signs of improvement, Reese's condition continued to decline to the point where she coded and doctors had to give her a tracheostomy, according to the outlet.
"It was terrifying for me," Hamsmith recalled to Today. "But I was also excited that we were just one step closer to getting her back and having her awake again."
Unfortunately, that procedure — though successful, at first — didn't help, and Reese coded once more before passing away in mid-December.
"I started praying… They did CPR, all of the things, for about 30 to 40 minutes," Hamsmith told the outlet. "I had never prayed so hard in my life or begged God like that … We just didn't get her back."
Hamsmith has been focused on honoring her late daughter by launching an organization called Reese's Purpose, which advocates for safer batteries, Today reported.
The mother has also launched a petition on Change.org, where she called for a bill that establishes national standards related to consumer products with button batteries.
"Every day we are reminded of just how much our family lost," she wrote on the page. "The greatest cost of all, though, is missing the brightest light in our lives and the immense pain that no family should have to endure."
"What happened to Reese can be prevented from happening to others," Hamsmith added. "Help us change the standards to keep all children safe from the dangers of button battery ingestion."
Those interested in signing the petition can do so here.
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