I'm glad to report that the battery charged to 100% yesterday and my Macbook is back in action, still minus the CD / DVD drive. Unfortunately, the DVD drive is packed away from owner's prying hands. Its a Matshita DVD-R UJ-857. I wonder if there are instructions anywhere to replace it?
What do you know, there is! Installing Optical Drive Replacement
I'm not going to bother with this now, but its nice to know that its possible.