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How Does A Three-Year-Old Latino Boy Die During Dental Surgery

Abiel Zapata-Valenzuela went to the dentist for an operation that was supposed to straightforward. Instead of entering and leaving with his mom, the three-year-old boy from Kansas left the clinic in an ambulance and died after arriving at a hospital.

Abiel went to Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry in Wichita with his mother last week to treat an infection.

According to an interview his mother, Nancy Valenzuela, did with local NBC-TV affiliate KSNW, Abiel needed teeth pulled, causing an infection in his mouth. Just before the operation, Abiel got upset and broke into tears after receiving an injection while in the dentist’s chair.

“I told him, ‘Papi, everything’s going to be OK,” Nancy Valenzuela explained in her interview. “‘You know you’re fine.’”

Only three minutes after he was sedated and the dentist got to work on his lower jaw, Abiel’s pulse began to slow down, and his cheek began to swell. A police report of the incident explained that the boy was given CPR and was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

“We didn’t expect to come out of there without a child,” his mother explained. 

According to a spokesperson for the Wichita police, it is possible that Abiel suffered an allergic reaction. 

“It is believed that the child had an unanticipated reaction to medicine provided during the course of his dental procedures,” Officer Trevor Macy explained before adding that there currently isn’t a criminal investigation underway regarding Abiel’s death.

In the aftermath, Valenzuela is left to mourn and rack her brain as to whether she could have done anything different to help her son.

“As a mother, you feel like you failed him because you didn’t do anything to protect him,” she explained. “I couldn’t do anything for you, but I will investigate’ — it’s what I told him… It’s the only thing I can do and bring awareness.”

Currently, family and friends of the Zapata-Valenzuela are working to help raise funds for Abiel’s funeral costs. In a post shared to Go Fund Me, a family friend wrote “Angel and Nancy’s son Abiel has passed from earth this morning, and now rests in the arms of God. This is incredibly heartbreaking for the family, and there are a lot of unknowns at this time. As a parent I cannot possibly imagine the pain of losing a child. The family needs time and space to grieve, and I wish for them to not have worry about financial expenses while doing so. Any donations made will go directly to the family, and will be used to help cover expenses that will come up during this hard time. If you know Nancy and Angel – you know they are the type of people who often go out of their way to help those in need. They are humble and are not the type to ask for assistance from others. Please help pay it forward to their family as they have done for so many others. Any support is appreciated.”

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