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3-Year-Old Dies After Having Teeth Pulled

Young Wichita patient's heart rate slowed while under sedation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2021 2:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Nancy Valenzuela said she didn't know anything was wrong until she saw her son taken out to an ambulance. They were at a dental office last week in Wichita, where Abiel Valenzuela Zapata, 3, was having teeth pulled after a gum infection. He died at a hospital, WBAY reports. A police report said the boy had been sedated and had no difficulties for the first half-hour. Then his heart rate slowed, and his right cheek became swollen. The patient was given something to boost his heart rate, though the report didn't say what, and the staff gave him CPR, per KSN. The police report said an anesthesiologist sedated Abiel, but the office's website says nurse anesthetists do that job; no anesthesiologist is listed on the staff.

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Valenzuela said her son had no preexisting medical condition that might have contributed to his death. "His heart just stopped beating. Just out of nowhere, so something must have gone wrong," she said. Valenzuela said she was unable to get answers at the desk while she was waiting for her son, and she hopes to encourage other parents to ask questions in those situations. The police report and Valenzuela said Abiel was slightly upset when the procedure began, but nothing worrisome. "The last thing I told him was cause he cried cause he felt the needle and stuff, so I told him, 'Papi, everything is going to be OK,'" Valenzuela said. "I'm like, 'You're fine,' and as a mother, you just feel like I failed him because you can’t do anything to protect him." Police say they are not conducting a criminal investigation. (Read more dentists stories.)

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