Guest Evacuated From Carnival Ship After Ingesting Battery

A unique reason was given for a medical evacuation from the Carnival Dream cruise ship, but how dangerous could the situation have really been?

A guest has been successfully evacuated from Carnival Dream for a very unusual medical reason – ingesting a battery. The incident occurred on Saturday, May 6, 2023, shortly after the ship departed Galveston for its current sailing. The evacuation was done by the US Coast Guard (USCG).

Guest Evacuated From Carnival Dream

The call for a recommended medical evacuation from Carnival Dream came in at 7:22 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, just hours after the ship had departed Galveston, Texas, on an 8-night Eastern Caribbean sailing.

An 86-year-old male guest was reported to be experiencing gastrointestinal issues and other “side effects from ingesting a battery,” according to a news release from the Coast Guard. The onboard medical team evaluated the passenger and consulted with the duty flight surgeon, who recommended the medevac.

Coast Guard Battery Rescue
Footage Courtesy: US Coast Guard

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Houston was dispatched to the cruise ship, which was approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Galveston at the time.

The helicopter crew was able to successfully hoist the passenger aboard and transported them to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The guest’s condition is reported as stable, but in order to preserve their privacy and that of their friends, family members, and any traveling companions, no further details have been released.

Carnival Dream has continued on its sailing with no appreciable delay, with port visits scheduled to Key West as well as Freeport, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau in The Bahamas. The 128,250-gross-ton ship will return to Galveston on Sunday, May 14.

How Does Battery Ingestion Happen?

The reasoning for the medical evacuation – “side effects from ingesting a battery” – is an unusual one, as most medical evacuations relate to possible stroke-like or cardiac conditions, progressive illnesses that may worsen during a guest’s cruise vacation, or sudden injuries that require advanced treatment.

Onboard medical centers are able to treat most minor conditions and less severe injuries, but more complicated cases or those requiring extensive care do require evacuation to land-based facilities that have more specialized equipment and staff available.

Different Battery Types
Different Battery Types (Photo Credit: Sebastian_Photography / Shutterstock)

It is not clear whether the battery ingestion was confirmed or only suspected for this particular medical evacuation, but depending on the type of battery and the guest’s other health concerns, surgery may be required to remove the foreign object.

It is possible that the battery in question could have been a small button cell type of battery, also called a coin cell, coin battery, button battery, or watch battery.

These small, flat batteries are less than an inch wide and are commonly used in car key fobs, pedometers, watches, or hearing aids, and could possibly be mistaken for a pill or piece of candy.

If accidentally ingested, these batteries could react with bodily fluids – such as stomach acid, mucus, or saliva – strongly enough to complete a live circuit and burn tissues such as the esophageal lining or blood vessels. Some batteries may also contain mercury, cadmium, or other toxic substances; prompt removal is essential.

No details have been released about the exact type of battery used in this incident or how or when it was inadvertently ingested.

Carnival Dream has also recently been in the news for another medical evacuation just days ago, when sudden poor weather nearly caused the USCG helicopter to crash while attempting a medevac on April 29. A second crew was able to be dispatched when the weather cleared, and that evacuation was completed successfully.

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