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Robin Huebner, Published October 10 2013

Robin Huebner Reports: 1-year-old boy who ate Tide pod leaves hospital

FARGO – The 1-year-old boy from Hitterdal, Minn., who became violently ill after eating part of a laundry detergent packet went home from the hospital Thursday.

Alex Rohde, smiling from time to time and surrounded by colorful balloons, left Sanford Children’s Hospital, where he was treated for nearly two weeks.

His mother, Michelle Klienschmidt, said he’s doing well but lost some strength and mobility while hospitalized. Doctors have told her it’s too soon to tell whether Alex has any permanent damage from ingesting the chemicals.

“His lungs are still kind of junky,” Klienschmidt said.

She held Alex tightly in her arms as they left the hospital.

The family’s world was turned upside down Sept. 28, just after they returned from a shopping trip. Among other things, they had purchased Tide Pods, the brightly colored, quick-dissolving laundry detergent packets.

Klienschmidt said the container’s lid came off, and Alex popped one of the packets into his mouth, thinking it was candy. The boy became sick immediately.

The family says it did what the product label suggested, giving Alex milk and calling poison control. But Klienschmidt said it only made him sicker. He was vomiting and had diarrhea, and began having trouble breathing.

After arriving at Sanford by helicopter, Alex was put on a ventilator and for a time things were “touch and go.” He was taken off the ventilator last Friday and moved out of pediatric intensive care but he needed several more days in the hospital to recover from withdrawal symptoms caused by the sedation medications he was on.

In the wake of the accident, Klienschmidt’s sister, Marsha Geray, of Moorhead, has started a Facebook page and online petition urging Tide Pods’ maker, Procter and Gamble, to change the product’s packaging and labeling.

Geray would like all single-load laundry packets to be wrapped in individual, non-toxic layers. She also wants labeling to say that when ingested, “May cause respiratory distress. Call 911.”

“That would be a victory for us,” she said.

Geray said the online petition has garnered about 100 signatures, but added, “We will need tens of thousands of signatures” to convince the company to make the changes.

In the meantime, as the family tries to get back to a normal routine, Klienschmidt said she will be using a different detergent. She said she had been using Tide Pods for a few months, normally storing them in a bathroom cabinet that has a child lock on it.