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Father furious as medics remove all of daughter's bottom teeth in operation

By David Young

Published 24/06/2016

Jessica Madden has learning difficulties
Jessica Madden has learning difficulties

The father of a young woman with severe learning difficulties has spoken of his shock after she had 14 teeth removed in a single operation.

Jessica Madden (22) had all her bottom teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in a two-and-a-half-hour operation at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital yesterday.

The young woman had been in severe dental pain for months - but her family had been told that because of her disability, it could take up to 30 weeks before she could be treated.

Jessica, who weighs around six stone, needs to go under general anaesthetic because she suffers from an extremely rare condition called 8p22 duplication that affects around five people in the world.

The disorder causes multiple problems including seizures, low muscle tone, a low weight of between five and six stone and issues with communication.

After her father posted an online video of her suffering and Jessica's ordeal hit the headlines, Belfast Trust found a way to bring her treatment forward.

Pastor Brian Madden, Jessica's father, said last night he had no idea when she went into the operating theatre that her bottom teeth were going to be removed.

"It's shocking" he said. "It was an absolutely shock to us, it really was. She was under the anaesthetic for around two hours and 20 minutes in the Royal School of Dentistry.

"We'd asked previously for her to be put under anaesthetic so they could do an inspection of her teeth - and they refused to do that. They said that there was a danger associated with the anaesthetic.

"So now we're left with a situation where they put her under, did an X-ray, and then had to extract 14 of her teeth."

Mr Madden explained how he felt he had little choice but to let the gruelling multiple extraction go ahead.

"We had to make a decision there and then whether to let them go ahead," he said.

"They said most of her teeth and the roots were all decayed and if they left them in she would be in severe pain. It wasn't much of a choice.

"All her food will have to be puréed from now on. It's terrible, absolutely terrible. It was a real shock for both my wife and I. My wife has been crying all day over the ordeal."

Jessica, meanwhile, is at home, nursing her ravaged jaw.

"Even though she's been prescribed painkillers, she's still very, very sore," her father told the Belfast Telegraph last night,

He added he had been told that because of her learning disabilities, Jessica would not be able to have any implants or dentures fitted in Northern Ireland, so he is now exploring the possibility of getting private treatment for his daughter in Dublin.

"We're following up with a consultant in Dublin who has put implants in adults with learning disabilities," Mr Madden said. "Of course, we have to raise the funds privately to do that, but first we'll be taking Jessica down to Dublin on Monday for a consultation to see if she would be a suitable candidate."

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