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British Girl Starved After Teeth Pulled

British Girl Starved After Teeth Pulled

Jill Lawless / AP

February 10, 2009

LONDON — When 8-year-old Sophie Waller cracked a baby tooth eating candy, it set off a chain of events that led to her death.

Sophie had such a fear of dentists that she refused to open her mouth for examination, so doctors at her local hospital took out the tooth in an operation. One of the medical team told a coroner’s inquest that they removed all seven of her other baby teeth at the same time to avoid the need for future procedures.

After the surgery Sophie refused to eat or even open her mouth for her parents, the couple told the inquest. But she was sent home anyway, and starved to death three weeks after the operation.

“No one saw her after she was discharged from hospital,” mother Janet Waller said. “I told (a child psychologist) she was sucking on a watermelon, she told me that was enough for her to survive on.”

The parents said the hospital mishandled Sophie’s follow-up care, referring them to a child psychologist who told them not to worry about Sophie’s plummeting weight. Janet Waller said she also was told to consult her family doctor, who prescribed nutrition drinks over the phone but did not see the girl in person.

Pediatric pathologist Dr. Marie-Ann Brundler said Sophie died at home on Dec. 2, 2005 from kidney failure caused by starvation and dehydration. The inquest was told Sophie weighed 72 pounds (33 kilograms) when she went into hospital and lost a third of that weight before she died.

An official at The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, 250 miles (400 kilometers) southwest of London, said there had been failures in Sophie’s care, and it had changed its procedures.

“The impact of Sophie’s death has been a wide-ranging impact across all of the disciplines that were involved,” John Ellis, a pediatrician at the hospital, told the inquest. “There have been changes.”

The hospital said it would not comment further until the end of the inquest, which was continuing Tuesday to establish the facts behind the girl’s death.

Janet Waller told the inquest in Truro that Sophie had developed a fear of dentists after her tongue was nipped during a checkup, and had refused to let a dentist look at her loose tooth.

“Because Sophie would not open her mouth for examination, I wanted to eliminate any further dental problems,” Tamsin Hearle, a specialist in pediatric dentistry, was quoted as saying by The Times newspaper.

  • 100_1845_sq90_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    I agree w/Peaches this is a very sad story! I also think its the parents fault for Not giving there child the Proper Nutrition. As a Parent Your job it to Feed, clothe, shelter, discipline and educate. I don't care if your child refuses or is scared you got to force the nutrition. I do agree the dislike for the Docs taking out all of the teeth at once there was No need for that "they just wanted to run up the Bill but the parents should have forced the nutrition. There are Days that I don't give My Son Breast b/c His Teething makes it tuff, but I know he needs the nutrient so I lQQk for other ways like pumping My milk for Him or giving Soup etc. Peace be with this little angel.

  • 100_1796_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Such a sad story. It alarms me why the parents didnt just take Sophie to the emergency room. It also alarms me that not one physician thought to check the situation out.

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