Amber Athwal, a 4-year-old Canadian girl, has been left permanently brain-damaged and in constant pain after a routine visit to the dentist went horribly wrong, CBC News is reporting.
On September 2, Amber’s family says that the young girl went to the family dentist for a routine check-up and found some cavities. The dentist recommended that the work she needed be performed under sedation, since Amber is 4 and, like so many kids, isn’t likely to hold still while adults poke around in their mouths. The unnamed dentist recommended Dr. William Mather, whom he said was “the best in town” – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, that is.
On September 6, Mather’s office had a last-minute cancellation and asked the Athwal family to bring Amber in. That morning, Amber’s mother, Arsh Athwal says, the little girl had a piece of toast with butter and a small glass of milk for breakfast.
Once at dentist’s office, staff asked if the young girl had eaten anything that morning. Arsh says Amber’s dad answered truthfully.
“He asked if my daughter Amber had anything to eat today and my husband told the specialist that she had breakfast, however he said it’s okay and carried on. He used general anesthetic for this procedure.”
Mr. Athwal helped the dentist put the mask on the girl, then he went to wait outside in the waiting room for what he thought would be a routine procedure.
An hour or so later, Mr. Athwal was called back to the dentist’s office.
“Mather told him she stopped breathing after the procedure. He told him he already called the paramedics, nothing to worry about, she’ll be OK. They might need to take her to the hospital for a checkup.”
In fact, by the time paramedics arrived, they had to perform CPR on the young girl.
Amber would go on to spend the next 12 days in the intensive care unit, before being stabilized enough to be allowed to a regular room at Stollery Children’s Hospital.
So what happened? During her time under anesthesia at the dentist’s office, the young girl’s brain was deprived of oxygen for so long that she is now permanently brain-damaged. The young girl, who loved to dance, will never dance — or walk — again. She will be wheelchair-bound for as long as she lives, will require diapers, and will need a feeding tube to eat.
A CBC News reporter visited Amber in the hospital, and described a horrifying scene. The once-vibrant young girl was curled up into a fetal position from the pain. Her eyes closed, Amber occasionally moaned, gasped, or whimpered. On the rare occasions she opened her eyes, she was unable to focus.
“They say she’s going to be disabled for life.”
According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, Amber’s parents have both quit their jobs to care for her. Meanwhile, Amber’s 2-year-old younger sister doesn’t understand what has happened to her big sister, according to Amber’s uncle, Amanpreet Singh.
“She often asks why she’s not waking up. She often cries when we take her to see Amber.”
Dr. Mather, for his part, reported the incident to the Alberta Dental Association and College, as he was required to do, and Canadian authorities are investigating. Meanwhile, the Athwal family is frustrated by the lack of answers.
“They don’t give us a timeframe when we can get any answers. At least we want to know what happened. What went wrong? Looking at Amber, we need those answers now.”
As of this writing, the GoFundMe page set up to help Amber Athwal’s family has raised $10,000.
[Feature Image by Eva Vergyasi/Shutterstock]