Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stockton, California 4 year old, dead after dental surgery


Jermaine Harrison


By Joe Goldeen

Record Staff Writer

November 16, 2011 12:00 AM

STOCKTON - On Friday, Dominique Smith brought her son Jermaine, 4, to a dentist in Oakland. She later left him with the Alameda County coroner.

Something went wrong after Jermaine was given an oral anesthetic to calm him down and subdue any pain caused by the dental procedure intended to remove some rotten teeth and cap some others. The family wants some answers.

Jermaine died after doctors unsuccessfully attempted to revive him, administering chest compressions for up to 45 minutes, his family said.

On Aug. 6, 2007, in Stockton Jermaine Lee Harrison was born with a hole in the wall that separates the right and left ventricles of his heart. He required open-heart surgery and, about 12 months later, he had a pacemaker installed. Three years later, he was thriving and healthy, his family said.

"He was playful. He never wanted to stay in the house. He was a jolly little boy, a happy little boy," said his grandmother, Pamela McElroy of Stockton, who accompanied her daughter and grandson to Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland last week where the dental procedure was scheduled.

Children's Hospital Oakland was familiar with Jermaine's medical history, the family said, because that's where his initial open-heart surgery was and where he returned every six months for a cardiology checkup.

The family is at a loss on what to do next. An autopsy report on the cause of death from the Coroner's Bureau of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office is not due for about a month, according to a coroner's spokesman who said it is standard procedure.

A spokeswoman for Children's Hospital Oakland said late Tuesday neither she nor hospital staff could speak about any aspect of the case without written consent from the family, which they are working on obtaining.

Anyone wishing to contact the family may call McElroy at (209) 271-3401.

Contact reporter Joe Goldeen at (209) 546-8278 or Visit his blog at

STOCKTON, Calif. (KCRA) -- A 4-year-old Stockton boy who survived three open-heart surgeries died Friday while having his teeth capped.

The boy’s grandmother, Pamela McElroy, said she watched as he was taken into an operating room. She never saw him alive again.

The cause of death remains a mystery, and an official at Oakland Children’s Hospital – where the dental surgery was performed Friday – said an investigation is underway.

“I just want to know what went wrong,” McElroy said.

Her grandson, Jermaine Harrison, had a pacemaker.

McElroy suspects doctors administered gas as an anesthetic, and said it happened after he was given a different anesthetic by mouth. She said her grandson’s heart condition prevented him from being able to tolerate gas.

Dr. James Hanson, a vice president at the hospital, said Jermaine did not receive too much anesthetic, basing that conclusion on what he described as Jermaine’s strong vital signs, blood gases and carbon dioxide levels.

However, Hanson said he does not know what type of anesthetic the boy received.

McElroy said her grandson’s teeth were decaying, and because of his heart condition, the dental work could not be done in a dentist’s office.

Hanson said Friday’s surgery was critical for Jermaine because of his heart condition. Tooth decay could have led to bacteria traveling through his bloodstream and to his heart, the doctor said.

Jermaine’s family doubts his heart condition played a role in his death, although Hanson said it’s a possibility.

Hospital officials are waiting for an autopsy report from the Alameda County Coroner’s Office, and are doing an internal investigation to determine what led to Jermaine’s death, Hanson added.

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