24-year-old dies after wisdom teeth surgery

A family is asking questions after a 24-year-old man died following an oral surgeon's operation to remove his wisdom teeth late last month.
By Melissa Pamer and Tony Shin, NBCSanDiego.com

A family is asking questions after a 24-year-old man died following an oral surgeon's operation to remove his wisdom teeth late last month.

Marek Lapinski, of Murrieta, Calif., went into cardiac arrest during the common surgery, according to medical records provided by a friend of the family.

Lapinski died three days after the March 21 surgery at a clinic run by Dr. Steven Paul in Temecula, Calif.

Thomas Keiser, the friend of Lapinski's family, called the death a "senseless tragedy."

Paul's attorney said in an email that the surgeon provides "state of the art services and monitoring for his patients," but wrote that "no surgical procedure is without risk."

"All standard protocols" were followed during surgery, Paul's attorney Clark Hudson said in the email.

"The circumstances regarding Mr. Lapinksi’s complications are not completely understood. What is understood is that Mr. Lapinski’s complications occurred despite the fact there were no apparent contraindications for his oral surgery, routine anesthetic medications were being used for the procedure, and immediate measures were undertaken to revive the patient as soon as the patient began to decompensate," Hudson wrote.

The ambulance report states Lapinski's doctor told first responders that he began to wake up and cough during the procedure, and was then given propofol, a surgical anesthetic that killed singer Michael Jackson. Lapinski had "surgical gauze in (his) airway," the report stated, as well as a "small 'surgical cone'" that could not be removed.

Lapinksi was taken to Rancho Springs Medical Center from Paul's office. The patient was later transferred to UCLA Medical Center, according to Keiser.

An investigator at the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said Lapinski's body still had not been examined, so no cause of death was available.

April Lapinski told NBC4 her son had been an "good kid."

"Our lives are ruined," April Lapinski said. "We don’t have him and he was the center of all of our lives."

She wants a full investigation of the death.

Marek Lapinski was a founding partner in a San Diego company called Total 3rd Dimension, which developed thermal and night-vision equipment for military use.

Lapinski had grown up in Wexford, Penn., and attended Duquesne University before moving to the San Diego area for work.

He played football at Duquesne, where a coach told a local Patch website that he was being mourned.

A day before his surgery, he had tweeted, "gettin my wisdom teeth out tomorrow. Loading up on some #soup and #yogurt."

A memorial page for Lapinski has been set up on Facebook. The website in his honor includes a way to make donations for a memorial fund.
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