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Teen declared brain dead after problems with routine surgery

Errors that occur before, during and after surgery range from the bizarre, such as leaving instruments in patients, to the tragic. In the case of a 13-year-old girl, a grieving and distraught family is fighting to keep their child on life support while they seek answers. The family believes surgical errors are at fault for the girl's current condition.

The incident began in early December when the girl was admitted to a hospital in another state. The girl suffered from sleep apnea and was having her tonsils removed to help treat the condition. The procedure was supposed to be routine.

According to family members, the girl was awake and alert following the surgery. She spoke with family members and asked for a popsicle. Not long after, things began to get scary for the family. The girl's uncle reports that the girl began to write out complaints because she couldn't talk. At that time, the family noted a preponderance of blood in the girl's throat.

The girl's grandmother, who is a nurse at another facility, reports that the issue occurred while there was little access to nursing staff, possibly due to a shift change. The girl's family members had to use a suction machine in the room to remove blood from her mouth. Family members report that the girl was coughing up a great deal of blood.

On Dec. 12, medical staff declared the girl brain dead. Following protocol, the medical staff planned to take the teen off life support. The family intervened, and they want to move the girl to another hospital or nursing home to keep her on life support. According to reports, the hospital is not cooperating with requests at this time.

The family report that they believe surgical errors, either during prep, the procedure or recovery, are to blame for this incident. The girl's mother reports that she was fine when admitted to the hospital in early December.

Source: NBC Bay Area, "Oakland 8th Grader "Brain Dead" After Tonsillectomy" Lisa Fernandez, Caitlin Matalone and Christie Smith, Dec. 16, 2013

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