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Boy, 3, dies after dental procedure in Kansas

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 9:38 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/Gray News) - A family is mourning the loss of 3-year-old Abiel Zapata, who died on Tuesday after visiting the dentist’s office, KWCH reported.

Abiel had cavities and, after getting the opinion of two dentists, was referred to Tiny Teeth in Wichita to have the teeth extracted and be treated, said his mother, Nancy Valenzuela.

“The last thing I told him was cause he cried cause he felt the needle and stuff, so I told him, ‘Papi, everything is going to be OK.’ I’m like, ‘You’re fine,’ and as a mother, you just feel like I failed him because you can’t do anything to protect him,” Valenzuela said.

Someone called 911 to report that a child had become unresponsive during a dental procedure. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

It’s believed the boy had an unanticipated reaction to medicine provided during the dental procedure.

No criminal investigation is underway.

She said he had no previous medical conditions to explain why this happened.

“His heart just stopped beating. Just out of nowhere, so something must have gone wrong,” she said.

When EMS arrived, that when Valenzuela said she worried something was wrong.

“We weren’t notified about him, about anything,” she said. It was well after the ambulance arrived she learned something happened to her son, she said.

“Didn’t expect to come out of there without a child. I don’t think any parent, any parent ever expects to come out of a place where you feel like they’d be secure,” Valenzuela said. “... but we did.”

Valenzuela said one of the things she wants to do is make parents more aware of this as a possibility and encourage them to ask questions.

This young child’s death has left his mother and family trying to understand why he died.

“We’re going to miss him because he was the loudest at home. He was very playful and cheerful.” Valenzuela said, “Everything reminds me of him. My house doesn’t feel the same without him.”

Valenzuela said it’s been hard for everyone in their family, including Abiel’s younger brother.

“He pointed up, and he said he was with God, so it brings kind of comfort to me, but it just hurts me that he knows,” she said.

It’s been their faith, Valenzuela said, that has provided them with strength through this time.

“I know he’s an angel, and he’s doing good. That brings comfort to me. It’s just hard not having him around,” Valenzuela said, “I don’t know why it was my son, but I know God had a purpose.”

Abiel would have turned 4 in August.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to support the family.

Copyright 2021 KWCH via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Gray Media Group, Inc., contributed to this report.