Nine-year-old Detroit girl dies after routine surgery to remove tonsils

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A 9-year-old girl who went in for a routine tonsillectomy in December died just hours after leaving the hospital. Now, her mother is suing and saying she should not have been released from the hospital.

Sonia Gambrell admits she was nervous to send her little Anyialah in for surgery and even pushed the surgery off for years - but on December 8th, she drove from Detroit's east side to Children's Hospital of Michigan in Troy for the surgery.

"We went to the appointment I had been running from for 9 years," Gambrell said.

Anyialah was having the tonsillectomy to help prevent her from snoring. Doctors said it was medically necessary.

It was supposed to take only 40 minutes but it took two hours.

Anyialah was discharged but Sonia said she thinks they were discharged too soon.

As they got home, they knew Anyialah wasn't feeling great.

Gambrell said after being discharged, her daughter was in and out of sleep. The doctor had prescribed the painkiller oxycodone, but Gambrell found it difficult to find a pharmacy that would fill it due to government regulations that closely monitor narcotic supplies and limits their supply based on previous usage.

That's how they wound up at St. John's hospital.

They tried to get the oxycodone filled there but the pharmacy wouldn't do it because Anyialah wasn't a patient at the hospital.

When Gambrell turned around to check on Anyialah, she knew something was wrong.

"I said her name three times. I thought she was playing with me - then she slumped over and her body was real cold," Sonia said.

It was just a few hours after the surgery but her little girl was dead.

"She wasn't ready to leave yet. I felt like we were brushed off. She left too soon," Gambrell said.

The family hired the Fieger Law Firm to represent them. The firm has taken the initial steps to file a lawsuit against Children's Hospital of Troy.

In a statement, the Children's Hospital said "We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Anyialah. We take the care and service we provide to our patients very seriously and we are here to support the family during this difficult time."

Autopsy reports are still pending and won't be known for several weeks.

Sonia has contacted an attorney and is preparing to sue the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) - which owns Children's Hospital of Troy. Among the allegations are that the doctor should never have discharged Anyialah.

Tonsillectomies are the third most common childhood surgery behind circumcision and ear tubes and are overwhelmingly safe, said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, distinguished professor and chairman of otolaryngology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

But there are risks, such as bad reactions to anesthesia or hemorrhaging as long as two weeks after surgery, Rosenfeld said.


Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.