A teenage girl died after having routine dental surgery so she could have braces fitted, an inquest heard.
Denisa Alexandra Stefanoaia, who was known as Alex, died at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London after complications during an operation to have four teeth removed.
St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard how the 15-year-old, from Watford, was ‘severely obese’ with mild asthma and sleep apnoea, which stops normal breathing during sleep.
Alex was told the surgery would take no more than an hour and was put under general anaesthetic – but she never woke up again.
Giving evidence remotely, Dr Atheer Ujam, a senior registrar at GOSH who carried out the surgery, told coroner Mary Hassell today that while Alex was a higher risk, he was not concerned about proceeding with the surgery.
He told the inquest: ‘I remember looking at her and her dad [before the operation] and there was a sense that although she was having an operation, it was something that was going to be associated with a good outcome – she was going to have her teeth straight.’
The court heard tv’. The risk was therefore deemed so low that Alex and her family were not warned about this.
The procedure lasted 19 minutes, and the surgeon deemed it to have been ‘very straightforward’.
Dr Ujam described the procedure as ‘uncomplicated’, but said he later noticed there was a problem – Alex had bitten down on the endotracheal tube and had stopped breathing.
He said: ‘I stayed in the theatre to make sure the patient was stable. I finished my notes … I went (back to the operating table) to see what was going on, that’s when I saw Alex – she was blue.’
Dr Ujam said a colleague told him it was a problem with Alex’s lungs, but a short time later he could see blood coming from her mouth.
He said: ‘I began to feel for a pulse and we couldn’t find one.
‘At that point (a colleague) said we have to start CPR … within 10 or 15 seconds there were many people coming into theatre.’
She was taken to intensive care but was pronounced dead five days later, her brain having been starved of oxygen.
Dr Ujam said he would not do anything differently were he to be faced with a patient similar to Alex.
Dr Akane Iguchi, consultant anaesthetist at GOSH, was also in the operating theatre at the time and said Alex’s obesity meant she may have been deprived of oxygen for only ‘a matter of seconds’ before turning blue.
Alex’s mother Angelica Stefanoaia described in a statement how the death of her daughter – her ‘best friend’ – had an impact on her life.
‘I have cried every day since she died, desperate to bring her back,’ she said.
‘I begged them on my knees to do everything they could for her and save her and they simply said she wouldn’t wake up.
‘When they told me she was poorly after the surgery, I never for one moment thought she would die.
‘Please, no other family should have to go through this terrible pain.’
Mark Bowman, a partner at Fieldfisher which is supporting the family at the inquest, said: ‘Going through an inquest investigating the death of your daughter is a horrific experience.
‘The hope is that the family will receive some answers which will allow them to properly grieve for Alex.’
The inquest continues.
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