Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Girl starved to death after op

Sophie Waller
Sophie Waller refused to eat or talk after her teeth were removed

An eight-year-old girl starved to death at home because she refused to open her mouth after a dental operation, an inquest heard.

Sophie Waller, from St Dennis, Cornwall, was so afraid of dentists she was sent to the Royal Cornwall Hospital to have her milk teeth taken out.

Afterwards, she would not open her mouth and was given a feeding tube.

The inquest heard that she died at home about three weeks later from acute renal failure.

Health deteriorated

Her parents, Richard and Janet Waller, told the inquest in Truro that Sophie had been scared of dentists and had refused to eat or talk when a milk tooth became loose.

The inquest was told it had happened before but this time her GP arranged for her to go to the Royal Cornwall Hospital for the tooth to be removed under general anaesthetic.

She was admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital on 7 November 2005.

Sophie's treatment
7 November: Sophie admitted to hospital for dental operation
9 November: Sophie given feeding tube after refusing to eat
17 November: Sophie discharged from hospital
2 December: Sophie found dead at home

In fact, eight teeth were taken out so that she would not have to go through the trauma of losing a tooth again.

After the operation on 9 November, Sophie would not open her mouth to eat or talk and was given a feeding tube on the ward.

She was discharged on 17 November and was taken home on the understanding a bed would still be waiting for her in hospital.

Despite attempts to feed her and contact with a psychologist, Sophie's health deteriorated and eventually she could hardly walk.

She was found dead in her bed at home on 2 December.

Her parents said that four days before Sophie's death they rang the hospital to say they were bringing her back in but were told they could not.

A pathologist, Dr Marion Brundell, told the inquest that Sophie had died of acute renal failure from dehydration and starvation.

The hearing continues.



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