Olivia Marie Coats was born to her parents, Rachel Melancon and Allen Coats, on December 28 at the Medical Center of Southeast Texas in Port Arthur. On New Year’s Day, shortly after 5 p.m., Olivia was taken off of life support and laid to rest.
Her parents say their newborn was born brain dead after suffering a fractured skull and severed spinal cord, essentially being internally decapitated, during the birthing process. ABC affiliate KTRK-TV out of Houston reported Thursday that an effort is now underway to ban a tool used during births after this unspeakable tragedy.
Her parents said their daughter’s injuries occurred when Dr. George Backardjiev used forceps during an attempted assisted vaginal birth. Olivia was eventually delivered by an emergency C-Section, and immediately transferred to Houston's Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital because of her severe injuries.
Rachel Melancon, in a candid post on Facebook, reveals her horrifying story. In almost its entirety, her post reads:
For those who don't know... I had a very good pregnancy, a very good PLANNED pregnancy… Every week in the end that I went to the Dr. I told him I couldn't do anything. I could barely hold my weight with my ankles. Olivia needed to come out. One more week, one more week, one more week! That's all he kept telling us, by then I has passed every due date that was giving to me. At my LAST visit December 26th I was in tears telling him to send me for a c-section today!
They didn't break my water until 7am the next morning and started my pitocin drip. I was in labor for 18 hours with a 103 fever and dilated to a 9 for 3 hours. When the Dr. said to start pushing Olivia wouldn't come down the birth canal. He used forceps. HORRIFIED I couldn't watch. From Allen, my mom, and mother in law they said he was pulling with one foot on the bed TWISTING trying to get her out and to flip over because she was face up. In the process we heard the noise of pottery breaking. Like 2 big popping sounds (it was her skull). He left her in the canal while stitching me up before emergency c-section.
I felt her pulled out of me and the room was silent. No crying baby and they told Allen to leave the room. That's the last I remember before waking up to my baby girl lifeless and a transport team flying her to Houston saying this is common and she would be back in a few days.
Olivia is getting a full body exam to see what caused her injuries. By looking at her it's obvious and it doesn't take anything other than looking at her head [to see] what happened. I told my baby I'm so sorry this happened to her and I wish I could have took away all her pain, by letting her go we did the most selfless thing we could do. A precious princess didn't deserve to suffer any more than she had.
R.I.P. momma and daddy's sweet baby.
You will get your justice!!!
The Olivia law will ban the use of this tool to prevent this from happening again! Please help this family! –Rachel Melancon
Her ordeal, as heartrending as it was and still is for this Port Arthur family, is now serving as a touchstone to legislate a new law that would seek to ban the use of forceps during the delivery process. As it is, the use of forceps to assist in vaginal birth is rare, being employed in only about one percent of births in the United States.
The staff of the doctor who delivered Olivia responded to the criticisms, as reported on by 12 News.
Dr. Backardjiev is a licensed physician in Texas and in Illinois. According to online records, there have been no previous complaints or actions taken against him. The website Healthgrades.com rates Backardjiev as 3.5 out of 5. A similar site, Ratemd.com, has Backardjiev as a “poor” rating, but the recent reviews were done in relation to this story.
According to 12 News, hospital staff said that Dr. Backardjiev is distraught about the baby's death. The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, and hospital CEO Matt Roberts issued this statement Thursday:
With our long history of care for newborns, this isolated incident rips at our hearts and words are insufficient to express how much our sympathies go to this loving family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Coats and their loved ones.
Whenever there is an unexpected outcome in patient care, the hospital brings all involved caregivers together and reviews the circumstances in a comprehensive manner. While patient privacy and peer review restrictions prevent the hospital from commenting specifically, the hospital administration and independent medical staff immediately initiated a review of all aspects of this case.
Our independent medical staff leadership shares in the hospital's commitment to take all necessary actions to understand why this happened.
Dr. J. Coffy Pieternelle, an OBGYN from Beaumont, said forceps are used if mothers are fatigued and can't push, adding that they are not used often. What's more commonly used are vacuum extractors.
“The head is sort of crowning and just won't come out. Sometimes you can help,” said Dr. Pieternelle. “We can use the vacuum extractor which is a soft cup vacuum cup that sticks to the baby's head, helps guide the head under the pelvic bone.”
A Facebook page set up for Baby Olivia and to update news already has close to 41,000 “likes” as of the writing of this article.
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