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Getting Musa Back to Summer Fun

150 Years Stronger Patient Story Musa

When 7-year-old Musa used his teeth to open a water bottle on a hot day at summer camp, the cap shot into his mouth, lodging in his esophagus. Musa could breathe, but he couldn’t swallow. Camp counselors got him to the emergency department at Children’s National Hospital. His parents, Liz and William, rushed there. They were terrified.

Doctors tried to locate the cap, which Musa insisted was stuck deep in his throat, even though it didn’t show up on an X-ray. Surgeon Evan Nadler took Musa’s word. “That made him feel heard,” Liz says. “He was uncomfortable and the doctors listened.”

Dr. Nadler used a dye study to confirm the bottle cap was lodged in Musa’s esophagus and prepared for surgery. He used a flexible tool to reach the plastic cap, but it wasn’t easy to grab. A small net helped him “fish” it out of Musa’s throat so he could swallow again.

Musa was back playing sports and swimming at camp not long after his emergency surgery. The ordeal has inspired him to look out for others. “He gets upset remembering the cap being stuck in his throat,” Liz says. “Now if he sees another kid putting a foreign object in their mouth, he says, ‘Don’t do that!’”

Dr. Nadler has learned to expect the unexpected as a pediatric surgeon at Children’s National. The best part of his job? Grateful families on their way home with healthy children.