The four-year-old needed some teeth capped and pulled, so the family booked her in to see Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson at Diamond Dentistry in Texas.
As they sat in the waiting room, time ticking by, there was no indication that things inside the dentist’s surgery had gone horribly wrong: their daughter was experiencing terrifying seizures while under sedation as a result of being over-medicated.
They had no idea the procedure would leave their bubbly daughter unable to walk, talk or see.
At one point during the seven hour wait, Nevaeh’s mother, Courissa Clark, heard her daughter crying. She went into the operating room, where she found Nevaeh flailing about in the dentist’s chair.
‘When I went back there and saw her, my first question was: “OK, do we need to call the ambulance or are you all going to call the ambulance?” Clark says of her intervention into the procedure.
‘And they said: “We’re just going to try to get her to calm down. We’re going to monitor her. We’re going to watch her. You guys have nothing to worry about, but we do need you all to wait in the waiting room and let her rest so she can walk back out of here.”
‘The whole time they just assured us that everything was OK.”
But things weren’t okay. Despite Nevaeh’s oxygen levels dropping to 49% and her heartbeat rising to 196 beats per minute, Dr. Jefferson refused to call an ambulance, instead choosing to monitor the little girl herself.
After witnessing Nevaeh’s seizure-like symptoms, Jefferson even elected to have her put in a “papoose”, a straight-jacket style cocoon that restrains children for dental work.
It was only after seven hours on the operating table that Nevaeh’s parents intervened and called 911, despite Dr. Jefferson’s instructions to the contrary.
When Navaeh arrived at the hospital, her parents’ worst fears were confirmed. She had suffered severe brain damage, losing her ability to walk, talk and feed herself. She has also gone blind.
The family’s attorney, Jim Moriarty, describes what happened to Nevaeh while she was in the dentist’s chair as being “both chemically and physically suffocated.”
Dr. Jefferson’s medical license has since been suspended pending trial, and Diamond Dentistry has shut down entirely.
Nevaeh’s parents plan to sue both Dr. Jefferson and Diamond Dentistry, but acknowledge that no amount of money in compensation will bring back their little girl.
“It’s heartbreaking. It really is like…I never in a million years would have thought something like this would happen,” Nevaeh’s father told KTRK.
“At this point there’s nothing else that can be done to get that same four year old back. It hurts to see her like that,” her mother commented.
The family have set up a GoFundMe page for Nevaeh’s ongoing care.