3-year-old Marvelena Rady recently visited the Dentabliss office in San Ramon, California, where she died as a result of anesthesia used during her procedure. The little girl was from nearby Brentwood, and her parents took her to the dentist early one Saturday morning for what had been described to them as ‘normal dental work’. Her father, Homam Rady, shared the unimaginable story as he remembers it.
An initial assessment of the necessary dental work had been conducted earlier, and the dentist recommended anesthesia as an option because of the large amount of work that needed to be done. Marvelena supposedly needed multiple crowns, several extractions, and a handful of fillings. Two dentists were going to perform the entire procedure, and one of them was a licensed anesthesiologist. Once the girl was put under anesthesia, the dentists began to fix her teeth.
Marvelena’s parents, Homam and her mother, who wished to remain anonymous, were told the procedure would end around 9:30 a.m., just a few hours after it was initiated. That time came and went, and the parents were starting to worry. They asked the receptionist if there was any issue with the procedure around 10 a.m., and even though they were assured their daughter was fine, paramedics came running in less than 30 minutes later. They went straight for Marvelena’s room, which was when her parents understood the severity of the situation.
The 3-year-old was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the San Ramon Regional Medical Center. The Contra Costa County office of the coroner confirmed the death of the small child, but the cause of her death won’t be uncovered for at least 3 months. The dentist’s office where the procedure took place has yet to comment on the incident, but their record for negligent behavior is nonexistent.
The last memory that Homam Rady and his wife have of their daughter is of her being wheeled out of the dentist’s office, completely unresponsive. The girl was initially treated by members of the San Ramon Valley firefighter paramedics, who were closest to the scene. They medics performed life support on the child for the duration of her trip to the hospital, and doctors and nurses continued to administer CPR for 40 minutes before it was determined that nothing else could be done to save her.
Homam Rady at least feels grateful that he got to hug and kiss his daughter right as they were administering the anesthesia, so she drifted off into unconsciousness with her parent’s love fresh in her heart. Her parents described her as a happy, playful girl, and her surviving 9-year-old sister, Juliviana, was the girl’s best friend.
Deaths from anesthesia are all too common in the medical community, especially amongst pediatric patients. Anesthesia is a fickle form of medicine, and it takes years of practice to be able to perfectly balance the numerous drugs that create the anesthetic effect. In younger patients with much smaller bodies, the dosages must be exactly right, or they can become fatal in an instant.
Most doctors and dental professionals will avoid administering anesthesia to younger patients if it is possible. The risks of the procedure on any young child far outweigh the potential benefits, yet so few people understand the truth of how unstable anesthesia truly is.
For instance, a phenomenon known as anesthesia awareness occurs when the levels of anesthetic drugs administered to a grown patient aren’t properly balanced, which results in the paralysis of the patient without making them unconscious, essentially trapping them in an unmovable yet fully aware body. While less than one percent of surgery patients claim to have experienced this phenomenon, it does happen. Several patients have been able to describe in full detail what it was like to feel every slice and cut as their surgery took place with them trapped in their own paralyzed body.
Much more research is needed before the art of anesthesia is properly understood, and that alone is a good indicator that the drugs shouldn’t be used on young children. The very fact that these deaths occur at all is alarming, and it should be studied in order to be prevented.