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Sleep Apnea Surgery For Child Ends In Brain Damage

When parents find out their child is suffering from a condition that makes it difficult to breathe, they want to do all they can to give their child the best chance at a healthy life. When doctors recommend surgery, the parents are confident that their child will be in good hands and the doctors will do all they can to keep the child safe. Unfortunately, when there is a medical error, the child can suffer permanent injury that will follow them for the rest of their lives. 

Brain Injury for Child After Surgical Error

Keonte Graham was only 11 months old when he underwent surgery to treat his sleep apnea. According to the lawsuit, Keonte was suffering from sleep apnea which was causing up to 50 episodes per hour. As a result of the sleep apnea, Keonte’s blood oxygen levels were low. His doctor recommended surgery to remove his tonsils, adenoids, and insert ear tubes. 

After the operation, Keonte continued to have low oxygen levels and had to remain in the recovery room for 5 hours. The lawsuit alleged his doctor had not conducted a sufficient exam after the operation and placed the child in a regular hospital room instead of the intensive care unit (ICU). The child also did not have an oxygen monitoring device. 

Keonte was later found not breathing and with no pulse and had to be resuscitated. An MRI revealed a brain injury caused by cardiac arrest. After a jury trial, the family was awarded $1.1 million in damages for the permanent brain injury suffered by the child. 

Sleep Apnea Surgery

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the country. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. However, most people with sleep apnea never know about the condition because an estimated 80% of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea goes undiagnosed. 

Sleep apnea does not just make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is associated with a number of serious health conditions, including: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression 
  • Chronic drowsiness

Sleep apnea can be treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that blows air into the airways to keep them open while the user sleeps. However, this is not a cure for sleep apnea. Weight loss and surgery are two common methods to treat sleep apnea. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer sleep apnea and have extra tissue in the back of the throat. 

Surgery can remove some excess tissue from the palate or throat. With a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, an oral or maxillofacial surgeon removes tissue in the throat to make the airway wider. This can involve trimming down the soft palate, uvula, tonsil removal, or repositioning of soft palate muscles. However, as with any surgery, there can be risks of permanent injury, including the possibility of brain damage involving anesthesia complications, or even death

Surgical Complications and Brain Damage

If a surgeon or anesthesiologist made a mistake during a medical procedure resulting in injury or harm, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact Gilman & Bedigian online to get started on your case.

About the Author

Briggs BedigianBriggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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