Chesapeake man takes on dentistry laws after daughter's death

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by Patrick Terpstra | Follow me on Twitter: @patrickterpstra

WVEC.com

Posted on June 9, 2010 at 5:24 PM

CHESAPEAKE -- When we first met Mario Blanco, he could not bring himself to take a googley-eyed pink plastic ring off his finger.

His daughter, 8-year-old Raven, asked him to hold on to the ring while she went to the dentist's chair in March of 2007.

Raven died under conscious sedation while at the Virginia Beach dental office of Dr. Michael Hechtkopf.

"She said, daddy hold these until I get out and I'm holding them until I see her," Blanco said on his front steps, days after Robin's death.

Three years after his darkest days, Mario Blanco is slowly finding purpose in his daughter's death, leading him to take on Virginia's Board of Dentistry.

Blanco is convinced there was inadequate emergency equipment in Hechtkopf's office, including no working defibrillator.

Hechtkopf settled with the Blanco family, and the Board of Dentistry cited him for "absent or poorly documented" readings of Raven's vital signs and "pulse oximetry reading."

His dental license remains valid through 2011.

Blanco wishes he asked more questions and inspected the office before allowing Raven to sit in the chair.

"What I suggest to every parent out there bringing their child to the dentist is: do research," Blanco said.

He wants the Virginia Board of Dentistry to require defibrillators, which it doesn't, and to inspect dentist offices more often.

A board spokeswoman said dental office inspections only occur following a complaint.

Blanco has started the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, rmbfinc.org, in honor of his daughter.

The foundation raises money to provide kids with food, shoes and soccer balls all over the world.

Blanco personally gave away more than a hundred soccer balls while working on a construction project in South Africa.

"When I saw this one 2-year-old boy, I saw Raven in him," he said.

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