Sedated boy becomes YouTube star

2009 02 10 13 25 34 229 2009 02 10 Video Thumb

"Is this going to be forever?" asks 7-year-old David Alejandro DeVore. It's a good question. The boy, now 8, has achieved immortality of a sort, thanks to a video clip of his sedation-induced confusion following oral surgery. The video hit the top of the charts on YouTube this month.

"Why is this happening to me?" David wonders in the video. The answer, according to his father, David Elbert DeVore, is ketamine.

DeVore said the drug was administered during the hour-and-a-half procedure by Michael S. Willis, D.M.D., of Orlando Oral & Facial Surgery in Florida. The surgery was necessary to remove a supernumerary tooth that might otherwise have prevented the eruption of a maxillary central incisor, DeVore explained.

DeVore posted the clip from his Flip video camera January 30, nearly a year after the procedure. As of today, the video, "David After Dentist," has attracted more than 7 million views, making it the most watched this month (followed closely by "No Pants Subway Ride -- 2009"). The Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor have both reported on the phenomenon, and DeVore said the family has also scheduled interviews with "Inside Edition" and other TV programs from as far away as Germany.

Video of 7-year-old David Alejandro DeVore with sedation-induced confusion following oral surgery. Video courtesy of David Elbert DeVore.

In the nearly two-minute clip, taped about 15 minutes after waking up from the procedure, David wonders, "Is this real life?" He complains of not being able to see, says his father has four eyes, and screams.

Disorientation is a common side effect of ketamine, which is sometimes abused precisely for these effects. It belongs to the category of dissociative drugs that distort sights and sounds and produce feelings of detachment. Ketamine may achieve these effects by selectively blocking N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and may also affect dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT2 receptors, according to a 2002 article in Molecular Psychiatry (August 2002, Vol. 7:8, pp. 837-844). Its mechanism is similar to that of phenylcyclohexylpiperidine (PCP).

According to the Physicians' Desk Reference (Medial Economics), ketamine is "best suited for short procedures but it can be used, with additional doses, for longer procedures. [It] is indicated for the induction of anesthesia prior to the administration of other general anesthetic agents." It has "a wide margin of safety," according to the manual, with patients fully recovering after being given up to 10 times the normal dose.

DeVore filmed his son before and after the surgery as part of an effort to reduce his son's fear of dentistry, he said. David has expressed fear before dental visits ever since he found bitewing x-rays uncomfortable at age 5. "I was trying to teach him that anticipation was much worse than the actual event," DeVore said.

"This was probably not the best example to use," he admitted. But he said David's dental fear has subsided "with experience and knowledge."

The clip has attracted more than 15,000 comments -- most of them favorable -- and inspired multiple parodies, including one with an actor dressed as Darth Vader playing the part of David.

Some commentators have accused DeVore of exposing his son to public ridicule. "I can't blame them," he said. "But those that are close to me know I would never do anything to harm my sons. People need to enjoy it for what it is. It's just a funny video of a kid."

So far, he said, David has enjoyed the attention. "The school kids think it's funny," said DeVore, adding that his wife, Tessie DeVore, is also happy with the outcome.

And this may not be the last the world hears of the DeVore family. Three-year-old Michael DeVore is now scheduled for his first dental exam.

Copyright © 2009

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