By Linda Carroll MSNBC.com April 6, 2012
When 17-year-old Jenny Olenick went in to have her wisdom teeth removed, her parents werent worried. After all, wisdom tooth extraction is so common these days that its almost become a rite of passage for teens.
She was supposed to be out of there in an hour and a half, Jennys mom, Cathy Garger, told TODAY. Just something we all do, going to the dentist. She was supposed resume normal functioning within about four days or so.
But the routine procedure quickly took a tragic turn. Just 15 minutes after Garger and her husband dropped Jenny off at the clinic they received an urgent call from the oral surgeons office.
We heard the ambulance sirens going in the background, Garger remembers. And as my husband and I were riding up the elevator we said, Thats for Jenny. We just knew it.
Though Garger and her husband were worried, they still had no idea of how badly things had gone wrong during the routine procedure on March 28, 2011. When they got to the hospital, doctors told them the outlook was bleak. Their daughter died 10 days later.
The autopsy report revealed that the apparently healthy teen had died of hypoxia while under anesthesia for a tooth extraction. In other words, shed been deprived of oxygen for so long that her brain was severely damaged. Sometimes when patients are under anesthesia their heart rate can slow, and then the body gets less and less oxygen if doctors cant get their heart back up to speed. Jennys death was ruled to be an accident.
Jennys was the second reported hypoxia-related dental procedure death last year. Earlier in the year, 13-year-old Marissa Kingery died after an oral surgery went wrong. Her death was also ruled an accident.