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9-Year-Old Dies After Routine Tonsillectomy In Detroit

A nine-year-old girl in Detroit died three hours after a routine tonsillectomy. Her mother had already expressed fears that the procedure would go wrongly, and wonders how the simple operation could have caused the cardiac arrest that killed her daughter.

Sonia Gambrell’s daughter, Anyialah Greer, died at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where she underwent surgery for sleep apnea on December 8, the New York Daily News reports. According to the family’s attorney, James Harrington IV, the specialist who did Greer’s surgery, Dr. Bianca Siegel, discharged her prematurely, which resulted in her subsequent death.

Harrington said,

Under federal law, you can’t discharge people unless they’re in stable condition. I don’t know how she could be considered stable when she died just hours after discharge.

Gambrell is still at a loss as to how a low-risk operation could have led to cardiac arrest. She said, “I still feel like I’m dreaming. Like, ‘Where is my daughter?’ Someone is going to come up and tell me it’s all over. That this was a mistake. She can’t die from something they do every day.”

Medical reports state that Greer might have had an obstructed airway, a negative reaction to anesthesia, or an existing heart condition. Autopsy results are still pending.

Tonsillectomies are the third most common surgical procedures in children, following circumcision and ear tubes, says Dr. Richard Rosenfeld of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Risks from tonsillectomies include hemorrhaging and anesthesia reactions, but rarely death.

Gambrell described her daughter as feeling “groggy” after the two-hour surgery. After leaving the hospital, she tried to fill the prescription for oxycodone, but more than one pharmacy denied her because of government laws on narcotic supplies.

When Gambrell checked on her daughter in the back seat of the car, she was unresponsive. “She didn’t do nothing. I touched her chest and she fell forward. Her skin was cold.” Gambrell, who has six more children, says Greer was like her “right hand. “ “She was always helping her brothers and sisters, like she was a boss of them.”

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