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Catastrophic Surgery Brings Into Question Necessity of Tonsillectomies

When 13-year-old Jahi McMath had her tonsils removed, her mother hardly thought that the young girl would suffer any other complications besides a sore throat.  The girl seemed to be acting normal following the surgery, too, asking for a Popsicle to soothe her throat.  However, what followed shortly after was anything but normal.  Jahi’s mother, Nailah, watched in horror as her daughter started bleeding from her mouth and nose and went into cardiac arrest.  Tonsillectomies are the third most common surgery performed on children in the U.S., but just because a surgery is routine does make it safe.

Girl Declared Brain Dead Following Tonsillectomy Complications

Sadly, Jahi was declared brain dead after her arrival at the hospital.  Doctors recently told her mother that they were going to remove her from life support, but her family is pleading for doctors to keep her on for just a little longer.   Although doctors note that serious complications following a tonsillectomy, there is always the chance for unexpected bleeding and even bleeding out following a tonsillectomy.  During a tonsillectomy procedure, the doctor removes the two oval-shaped pads that sit at the back of the throat.  To do this, they must cut away or burn the tonsils and may accidentally nick a small artery.

Some Patients a Higher Risk of Complications Following Surgery

Experts also note that some patients are at a higher risk of serious complications following surgery.  For example, patients with pre-existing conditions such as heart, liver or lung problems are more likely to experience complications.  Similarly, patients who are obese are also more likely to experience complications.  However, sometimes medical errors are nobody’s fault except for the surgeon’s–statistics suggest that over 200,000 people are killed in the U.S. every year by preventable medical errors.  To prevent medical errors and to do their part, experts suggest that patients should be upfront about all of their medical history–their experiences with anesthesia, surgery, whether they are prone to heavy bleeding or bruising or if they have any allergies.  People should also always ask themselves the most pertinent question of all: “do I need this surgery?”

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