ELYRIA — A coroner’s verdict states that 13-year-old dental surgery patient Marissa Kingery died of lack of oxygen to the brain after she was sedated with four drugs.
Marissa “apparently became ill and collapsed” at 8:39 a.m. Dec. 21 following intravenous sedation in the offices of oral surgeon Dr. Henry Mazorow on West 21st Street in Lorain, according to the report from the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office.
Paramedics took her to Mercy Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed respiratory arrest. She was flown to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, where she was placed on a ventilator, according to the report.
She was given drug treatment and an operation was performed, according to the coroner’s verdict, which stated supportive care was maintained but Marissa failed to respond and was pronounced dead at 9:40 p.m. Jan. 3.
The death was ruled accidental due to diffuse hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy — damage to the brain that also occurs in carbon monoxide poisoning and many cases of shaken baby syndrome.
In Mazorow’s office, the drugs propofol — the anesthetic that was listed as a “contributing factor” in pop star Michael Jackson’s death — ketamine, remifentanil and Versed were administered to Marissa in what is commonly known as “twilight sleep” or light sedation.
Attorney Michael Czack, who represents Marissa’s family, did not return phone calls and Marissa’s parents, Amber McEwen and Jason Kingery, also were unavailable for comment.
Marissa’s case is the latest pediatric death being monitored by a foundation founded by the family of 8-year-old Raven Maria Blanco of Chesapeake, Va., who died after being administered sedatives during a dental procedure.
Raven Blanco Foundation’s director of medical emergency preparedness, Dr. Larry Sangrik, said the foundation has tracked 19 pediatric deaths related to dental complications since 1996, including six children who have died since January 2010.
Sangrik, a dentist in Chardon, refused to secondguess Mazorow’s decision to administer the four-drug sedation to Marissa, saying, “all the drugs in Marissa’s case are very tightly regulated in the state.”
Sangrik has been speaking to the dental community about readiness in dealing with medical emergencies.
“The issue is if you do run into anesthesia complications, then you need to be prepared to address those immediately,” Sangrik said. “Children in particular run out of oxygen very quickly — the volume of air left in their lungs is disproportionately small and is used up very quickly.”
Exactly what was done at Mazorow’s office to revive Marissa is unclear. The coroner’s report does not state whether Mazorow’s staff attempted treatment before paramedics arrived.
Mazorow, who turned 81 in January, did not return phone calls for comment on the coroner’s report. His attorney, Ronald Mingus, declined to talk about the case, except to say his client is no longer administering intravenous anesthesia during dental procedures.
Under Ohio law, Sangrik said, Mazorow was required to have additional training every two years as an oral surgeon with a permit for general anesthesia.
Marissa’s death is under investigation by the Ohio Dental Board, which did not take any action against Mazorow in the 1997 death of 57-year-old Rosemary Johnson of Grafton, who died while having six teeth extracted.
Johnson’s family settled a wrongful death case against Mazorow for $550,000 in 1999, according to court records.
The dental board’s executive director, Lili Reitz, was unavailable for comment, a staff member said.
Meanwhile, Marissa’s death is one of the cases being examined by “Good Morning America” in a report expected to air in the next several weeks, said Raven Blanco’s cousin, Nicole Cunha, executive director of the foundation, which is located in Virginia Beach, Va.
“What we’re finding is most dental offices in America aren’t qualified to handle these medical emergencies,” Cunha said.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.