Amber Athwal‘s father, Raman Athwal, said they had a party for the girl on Saturday.
“The last few months were a struggle for us, for the whole family, for Amber. This birthday at least brought some joy to the family,” he said. “It’s tough but if we take the other side, the positive side, it was like Amber’s new birth. So we were kind of celebrating her survival and her birthday too.”
Amber was dressed up as Elsa, her favourite character from the Disney movie Frozen. Her sister was dressed as Anna.
“She was very happy. She was smiling throughout the day. While cutting the cake she was making sounds,” Raman said.
“She passed her swallow test last week, so she can eat the cake and she enjoyed it a lot.”
Staff at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital celebrated Amber’s birthday with her last Friday, which she also enjoyed.
Raman said his daughter’s condition is improving, four months after she was left in a coma following a dental visit. Amber’s family said she was hospitalized on Sept. 7 after suffering brain damage after she was given a general anesthetic for a dental procedure.
“She smiles a lot,” Raman said, adding she is more responsive and can say a few words like mama and papa.
“We feel very happy when she calls papa or mama. It’s like, the sound we are hearing after four months – it makes us so happy. It brings tears into our eyes.”
Amber will be discharged from the Glenrose at the end of January. The family’s next big struggle will be to make their home accessible for Amber, who is in a wheelchair.
Raman sent Global News the following picture from Amber’s birthday party, the first picture we’ve seen of her since the procedure.
The dentist who performed the procedure, Dr. William Mather, will be sent before a hearing to determine if he’s guilty of unprofessional conduct. A date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled.
An investigation into what happened to Amber was conducted by the Alberta Dental Association and College but in November Raman said he was told the findings of the report will not be released.
Raman said he still isn’t getting answers from the ADA&C and is asking people to sign an online petition, pushing for more information.
“We are very disappointed with the way the dental association is dealing. They still don’t want to tell their investigation findings,” he said.
The ADA&C council is planning a couple of town hall meetings later this month to discuss sedation and general anesthetic in dental practice. The first meeting will be held in Calgary on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Westin Hotel. Edmonton will host a meeting on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Shaw Conference Centre.
With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News.