Abiel Valenzuela Zapata, a 3-year-old boy from Kansas, died on July 6 during a routine dental procedure after being given anesthesia. Nancy Valenzuela, the boy’s distraught mother, is mourning his death and is looking for support from her community.
Abiel Zapata was scheduled to have his teeth pulled due to a gum infection at Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry. The dental practice is advertised as a child-friendly office with “experts in dental development” that “monitor your child’s needs and provide advice and treatment to ensure a winning smile.” Though everything seemed to be routine during the “simple procedure,” the 3-year-old boy died while on the operating table.
Detailed in a Wichita Police Department incident report, the anesthesiologist gave Abiel Zapata the appropriate dose and the sedated boy was doing fine for about 30 minutes. Then, about 20 minutes later, the boy’s cheeks swelled and his pulse slowed. Abiel Valenzuela Zapata was then “given something to try and increase his heart rate,” but soon after “his pulsed stopped” and the dental team “started CPR.”
Nancy Valenzuela’s little boy was then rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Scott City mother admitted that “we didn’t expect to come out of there without a child,” and claimed that her son was happy and healthy before the surgery. The doctor who performed the “simple procedure” said he had never seen a case like this before, especially given that the boy had no known allergies.
After the July 6 incident, Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry released a statement, offering their condolences to the Valenzuela-Zapata family. In the statement, the dental practice said that “Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry is devastated by the death of Abiel Valenzuela Zapata. We are praying for the family during this time and ask for the community to do so, as well. Like Abiel’s family, we, too, want to understand how this tragic event may have occurred.”
According to a Wichita police officer, there is currently no criminal investigation underway at this time, though authorities are trying to determine what happened to the 3-year-old boy. Tiny Teeth Pediatric Dentistry explained that “our practice has never experienced an incident like this, and we had no reason to expect this procedure would be anything other than routine.”
The dental practice continued, saying it “would like to thank the EMS first responders who arrived only a few minutes after we called 911. They continued the CPR efforts we had begun and worked feverishly to save Abiel.”
In an emotional Facebook post, Nancy Valenzuela claimed that “the hardest part is keeping strong for my other kids.” She said that “I know nothing will ever bring him back but he was the one to always stand out always looking for attention. I can’t ever hold him in my arms or sleep with him when he needed me. My boy didn’t deserve to die no matter how many ppl say it was probably an allergic reaction.”
At this moment, authorities have not released Abiel Valenzuela Zapata’s cause of death, though many speculate the boy had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. The boy’s mother, however, claims that is not the case.
“I will tell you right now if that was the case he would have had an allergic reaction on the first dose,” the mother pointed out in her Facebook post. “He was given a second dose of anesthesia and Idk why. Within minutes there was no pulse. He went into cardiac arrest guys. I watched Doctors and nurses give CPR forever and my boy didn’t return to me.”
The devastated family is seeking answers and Nancy Valenzuela claims she is seeking “justice.” The boy’s mother said that she wants to “find out what happened because he was a healthy boy. There is someone to blame for it because if a dental office is not prepared for that kind of procedure/ emergency situation my son needed then they must not even be doing it there.”
The day Abiel Zapata died, a GoFundMe was created to support the Zapata-Valenzuela family. The fund was set up to cover financial expenses while the family grieves. The GoFundMe post claims that “any donations made will go directly to the family, and will be used to help cover expenses that will come up during this hard time.” It’s unclear whether Nancy Valenzuela will seek legal action or whether the GoFundMe will help cover legal fees.
In a separate Facebook post by the mourning family, the boy’s mother said that “my husband Angel Zapata and I just want to thank each and every one of you that have been helping us emotionally and financially since we lost our Abiel. It means a lot to us.”
Medical examiners are still trying to understand what happened to Abiel Valenzuela Zapata. The family, dental practice, and Wichita police are doing what they can to seek answers to the boy’s tragic death.