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Boy who swallowed laundry packet slowly improving

FARGO -- The 1-year-old Hitterdal, Minn., boy still hospitalized after swallowing part of a laundry detergent packet last week is slowly getting better, family members said Thursday.

Alexander Rohde is listed in "critical but improving" condition at Sanford Children's Hospital in Fargo, where he's been since the accident Saturday.

His mother, Michelle Klienschmidt, said Alexander is still on a ventilator, but doctors hope to remove it soon.

She said they are weaning her son from sedation medications, with the intent of removing the breathing tube sometime this morning.

Klienschmidt was told that if his breathing isn't stable after the ventilator is out, there's a chance he will have to be re-intubated.

"But they're hoping that won't happen," she said.

Once Alexander stabilizes, he will be moved out of pediatric intensive care and into the regular pediatrics unit. His prognosis is still unknown.

"He could have lung damage, but they won't know until the tube is removed," Klienschmidt said.

Alexander ate part of a Tide Pod, a small packet of laundry detergent that the family had just brought home from a store that day.

The pods are brightly colored packets that some say are too inviting to young children.

Alexander became ill quickly with vomiting and diarrhea and began having trouble breathing.

Marsha Geray, the boy's aunt, is working on an informational "Facebook blast" for parents and had started an online petition to try to persuade Procter and Gamble, maker of Tide Pods, to change the packets' labeling and packaging.

She says the family followed the product label, which said, "If ingested, give milk and call poison control."

"It made him worse," Geray said.

She said had the label instead warned, "May cause respiratory distress. Call 911," perhaps her nephew wouldn't be so sick.

The boy was transported to Sanford first by ambulance, then the remainder of the way by LifeFlight helicopter.

Geray will also push for Tide Pods to be individually packaged, making it tougher for little ones to gain access.

In the meantime, the family just wants Alexander to get better.

"We want the prayers to keep on coming," Klienschmidt said.