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Girl Afraid of Dentist Starves to Death

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After going to the dentist and having eight baby teeth extracted, an eight-year-old was too traumatized to eat. Now she has starved to death.

girl died from fear of dentist

An 8-year-old girl from England starved to death after developing such a fear of dentists she refused to eat, a court heard.

Sophie Waller died a month after undergoing an operation to remove her baby teeth after she stopped eating or speaking because of pain in one of them.

Doctors decided to remove all eight of her baby teeth so she would not have to undergo repeat operations.

However, Sophie's mother said her daughter was "devastated" when she discovered her teeth had gone and had a long-standing phobia of dentists.

After the operation, Sophie was kept on a feeding tube in the hospital before being discharged on November 17, 2005.

In the days that followed, the 8-year-old continued to refuse solid food and lost more than 20 pounds.

Her parents Janet and Richard, from St. Dennis, England, said they told doctors Sophie was only consuming small amounts of yogurt, fruit and nutritional drinks prescribed by a general practitioner, and were told she would be "okay."

A week later, Sophie's parents said she was so emaciated they could see her spine through her back and her hair was falling out.

The couple told the hearing they called the hospital but were told by a nurse not to bring her in as she was now under the care of community child psychologist, Dr. Kerry Davison.

"No one saw her after she was discharged from the hospital," Janet Waller said. "I told Kerry Davison she was sucking on a watermelon, she told me that was enough for her to survive on."

Sophie died on December 2, 2005, from acute renal failure caused by starvation and dehydration, pediatric pathologist, Dr. Marie-Ann Brundler said.

Brundler said she would have expected a health professional to have noticed Sophie's emaciated state had they seen her before she died.

"This could have easily been avoided, if we could have just gone to the hospital," Richard Waller said.

The investigation into Sophie's death is ongoing.

Momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says, "This is a very extreme story, and very sad. If a parent is worried about her child, don't ask permission to see a doctor -- make an appointment and go in. From the sounds of it, if a physician had weighed and examined this girl, it is very likely that she would have received intensive nutritional care or been admitted to the hospital well before her kidneys failed."

What a sad story. Our hearts go out to the family.

Do you or your kids have a fear of the dentist?

next: Counselor Makes Girl Take Pregnancy Test
29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie February 10, 2009, 8:46 PM

This is insane. Who would allow their 8 year old to STARVE to death without seeing a doctor? Those idiotic parents should be convicted of something and put in jail to rot. That poor little girl!

Tara February 10, 2009, 9:22 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong but Great Britain has Universal Healthcare, right? They basically do have to ask to see anyone beyond their primary care physician and then it’s a helluva long wait if they’re even approved to see anyone.

It’s sad that this happened and it definitely shouldn’t have. Her parents should never have let it happen.

Chrissy February 10, 2009, 10:33 PM

Diod you read the story?
The parents repeatedly asked to see a doctor and was demnied. They also were repeatedly could that their daughter was okay.
The greater burden is on the hospital and doctor.
Tara -
Did you see Oprah today? I women ended up with a 140 lb cancerous tumor because her doctor told her nothing was wrong and that she needed to lose weight. This happened in America.
There are bad healtcare professionals everywhere.
Some people just trust their doctors too much.

tara February 10, 2009, 11:01 PM

The joys of universal healthcare. Can’t wait for it to get here.

Anonymous February 11, 2009, 1:21 AM

If it happened in 2005 why are we first hearing about it now?

Natalie February 11, 2009, 5:34 AM

Yes, Chrissy. I read it. They were not denied, they were told that they didn’t need to. If that were my kid, she would have been in the ER as soon as she decided to stop eating. The fault lies COMPLETELY with the parents, and with no one else.

SmartMom February 11, 2009, 12:01 PM

Tara- Watch the movie “Sicko” by Michael Moore. It is very educational and eye opening. It is all about the heathcare crisis in America and how universal heathcare is working in other countries. Healthcare in the U.S. is a JOKE! Time to wake up America….

Brooke February 11, 2009, 6:08 PM

I too feel that the blame lies with the parents. They should have taken her to the hospital and demanded that she be seen.

lovingmom February 11, 2009, 7:52 PM

i can not believe that a parent would allow there child to strave to death i would have my child at the hospital after 1 day if she refused to eat

The other Natalie February 12, 2009, 3:09 PM

Look at that beautiful little girl, I can not believe that her parents litterally watched her die. It’s amazing to me how some people just blindly do as they are told, even at the expense of their child. This story breaks my heart.

BrendaM February 15, 2009, 8:03 PM

The blame lies on both sides. Yes the parents should have been more forceful and demanding. But this how Doctors everywhere are. They have no time to see their patients because they’re to busy playing golf, Yet they can charge $100.00 or more for just telling you “HELLO”.

jenna February 18, 2009, 10:49 AM

The parents should have insisted or taken her to urgent care. Always trust your instincts - physicians are only human and make mistakes.

mercaties February 21, 2009, 6:14 PM

I’m sorry but the parent’s need to face child neglect charges. I don’t give a damn what the hospital/ doctors said if my daughter was that emaciated that I could see her spine she would have been taken to a hospital. If your child was starving to death would you just say “oh okay the hospital said she’ll be fine.” These parent’s are stupid. Also, you don’t just up and starve to death, this child would have had to have gone several days without food and water. If she was in that mutch pain to even eat then she should have been put back on a feeding tube. Which is what the hospital probably would have done had they taken her back.

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