Community fundraises for little girl permanently disabled at dentist's office

The Edmonton community is helping fundraise for a little girl left permanently disabled by a trip to the dentist.

Four-year-old girl suffered permanent brain injury after being given general anesthetic

Amber Athwal, 5 has returned home to live with her family, but the transition is not easy. (Ramandeep Singh)

A dinner will be held this month to raise money for a little girl left permanently disabled by a trip to the dentist.

Amber Athwal, then 4, was put under general anesthetic during tooth extraction at a downtown clinic on Sept. 7, 2016.

The girl stopped breathing at some point during the visit and was rushed to the Stollery Children's Hospital.

Deprived of oxygen, she suffered a permanent brain injury. Doctors say she will never fully recover.

'Her body doesn't work' 

 "Amber has improved a lot," her father, Ramandeep Singh, said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"She's very much conscious. But the bad thing about that is that her body doesn't work. She can't sit, she can't stand.

 "She can only speak four to six words and she has limited eyesight."

In February, the Athwal family filed a $26.5 million lawsuit against the dentist, Dr. William Mather and eight members of his staff.

Mather was charged with unprofessional conduct, and the case remains under investigation by the Alberta Dental Association and College. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Amber spent months in the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, but has now returned home.

Adjusting to life with a severely disabled child has been overwhelming for the family, said Singh.  

The cost of the equipment, and 24-hour care has been staggering, and only a small portion of those costs are covered by government grants and subsidies.

"There are a lot of problems, a lot of challenges that we face every day," said Singh.

"There is a lot of equipment, like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, a stair lift, a porch lift, a ceiling track lift. These are the day-to-day challenges that we face."

A community fundraiser intends to ease that transition, by allowing the family to purchase a wheelchair-equipped vehicle. Any additional funds will be set aside for Amber's future medical needs.

Organized by Nigel Logan, the dinner will be held at the Maharaja Banquet Hall in south Edmonton on June 14.

Logan got involved with the family when working for their local MLA, Edmonton-Mill Creek's Denise Woollard.

Singh came by the office last year, desperately looking for financial assistance for his young family.

After a catastrophic event like this one, life still goes on- Nigel Logan,  fundraiser volunteer

"I soon discovered there wasn't much available without a change in legislation, so I sort of took it on myself to, in my free time, to help organize a fundraiser," Logan said.

"After a catastrophic event like this one, life still goes on. But with 24-hour care it requires a lot of help, and that was the genesis of this."

The fundraising dinner and silent auction will happens June 14 at 6 p.m. at the banquet hall at 9257 34A Avenue N.W.

"The community has supported a lot in every way," said Singh.

"They have helped us financially and they've prayed a lot since day one, and that's helped a lot in Amber's recovery."
Four-year-old Amber Athwal in early 2016. (Ramandeep Singh)