A little girl in Hawaii died Friday following a routine dental procedure that caused permanent brain damage. According to Time, 3-year-old Finley Boyle was left in a “persistent vegetative state” after undergoing four root canals in early December. Boyle’s parents, after learning that their daughter’s brain damage was permanent, decided to remove Finley from life support.
“Her parents can’t believe anyone would want to live not knowing they’re alive, going through terrible seizures,” the family’s attorney, Rick Fried, told New York Daily News. “They didn’t want to see her going through puberty in diapers.”
Finley Boyle suffered from cardiac arrest on Dec. 3 after the 3-year-old was given drugs to sedate her before her procedure. She was taken to a hospital, and then to a hospice center, where she was put on a feeding tube.
"Even the doctors are in tears," Finley Boyle’s mother, Ashley Boyle, told ABC affiliate KITV in Hawaii. "They all have children, too. We were all waiting for her to wake up."
But efforts to revive the child were unsuccessful. Finley Boyle died at 8:47 p.m. after her feeding tubes were removed. MRIs showed that it was a lack of oxygen to the toddler’s brain that ultimately resulted in her death.
Now, the parents are suing Island Dentistry for Children and the doctor who ran it, Dr. Lilly Geyer, alleging negligence and dangerous conduct.
According to the lawsuit, Finley Boyle was given a mix of five different sedatives and anesthetics. They claim the dentist did not account for how these medications would react in the toddler’s body, and that the medical staff was not prepared to handle emergency situations. According to KITV, the lawsuit claims that the 3-year-old was even left alone for 26 minutes after being sedated. When the doctor discovered Finley Boyle, she didn’t know how to revive her and had to run down the hallway to grab a pediatrician to perform CPR.
“As a direct and proximate result of the medications administered to [Finley Boyle] by defendants, [Finley Boyle] suffered cardiac arrest during her dental procedure,” the lawsuit states, resulting in “severe and permanent brain damage.”
Finley Boyle was first seen by the dentist in November. Doctors told her mother that her daughter needed 10 cavities filled, four of which were root canals. The family returned to the dentist office Dec. 3 to have the procedure done.
“It’s a horrendous screw-up,” Fried told New York Daily News. He added that much of the dental work that Geyer prescribed for Boyle was gratuitous.
Island Dentistry has yet to comment on the pending lawsuit and has since closed its doors. “Island Dentistry is now closed permanently,” it states on the dentist office’s website. There is also a note about transferring patients’ documents to new dentists.
News of Finley Boyle’s death comes on the heels of another story from Oakland, Calif., where a girl was left brain-dead after a routine tonsillectomy. The family of Jahi McMath fought to keep their 13-year-old daughter on life support after she went into cardiac arrest while recovered from her Dec. 9 surgery. The Oakland teen was declared brain-dead “practically and legally,” and the hospital refused to keep her past Dec. 30.
The family of Finley Boyle is hosting a fundraiser to raise support to pay their daughter's medical bills.