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A Pregnant Woman Endured An Emergency C-Section Without Anesthesia, According To A Lawsuit

The hospital called the couple's claims "outrageous" and said the 25-year-old mother was given anesthesia before the emergency surgery.

Last updated on August 3, 2018, at 11:14 p.m. ET

Posted on August 2, 2018, at 11:18 p.m. ET

Courtesy of Paul Iheanachor

A California doctor cut open a mom-to-be without anesthesia for an emergency cesarean section as the woman cried and screamed in pain, according to a lawsuit filed in San Diego County.

According to the complaint, the woman told doctors that she felt everything until she eventually passed out from the pain.

Last month, the 25-year-old woman and her fiancé sued Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, California, claiming medical malpractice and emotional distress from the procedure.

"Patient safety and quality are the utmost priorities for Tri-City Medical Center and all of our partners," a spokesperson for medical center said in a statement.

In a follow-up statement issued Friday, Tri-City Medical called the couple's claims "outrageous" and said that, despite the claims made in the suit, the mother-to-be was given anesthesia.

"The patient was administered anesthesia prior to the surgery," the hospital said in the statement. "We are pleased that the baby is 'healthy' and 'happy.'"

In an interview with BuzzFeed News Friday, the couple said that just before the surgery, the doctor appeared to rub something on Delphina Mota's skin, which they assume was some sort of topical local anesthetic. Despite that, Mota said she felt everything as the doctor began to cut through her skin.

"I started screaming and I remember passing out," Mota told BuzzFeed News. "They had to hold me down because my whole body was feeling this pain."

According to court documents, Mota and her fiancé, Paul Iheanachor, walked into the hospital on the morning of Nov. 15. Mota was more than 41 weeks pregnant at the time and they expected labor to be induced.

By 5:21 a.m. the following morning, however, doctors could no longer pick up the heartbeat of the baby and her doctor, Sandra Lopez, called for an emergency cesarean section, according to court documents.

"Nurses came in and the doctor came in as well, and I just remember them ripping all the wires from me," she said. Mota was taken to an operating room and an anesthesiologist was called multiple times but, according to the complaint, he did not answer the call.

"I heard them say that they had called the anesthesiologist numerous times but got no response," Iheanachor told BuzzFeed News. "I heard them call him on the intercom."

Mota had been given an epidural the previous night, but according to the complaint, "it had no effect on the surgical site for the C-section, which was located on her abdomen."

She said she had told nurses that she was feeling the epidural wearing off. Once in the operating room, she said she also felt the doctor "rub stuff on me."

"I heard [the doctor] say, 'We have to do it, we have to do it,'" Mota said. "The whole room was just like in chaos."

Tri-City Medical Center officials did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News questions whether Mota was given any anesthesia in addition to the epidural mentioned in the suit.

The lawsuit does not mention whether local anesthesia was used before the surgery.

According to the complaint filed in court, the anesthesiologist, David Seif, continued to be paged when Lopez said, "Strap her down."

Mota's arms and legs were strapped to the table just before the doctor began to make the incision.

Cali is now 7 months old.
Courtesy of Paul Iheanachor

Cali is now 7 months old.

In Lopez's "Operative Report," which is quoted in the complaint, the doctor described how she made the incision without anesthesia and separated Mota's abdomen muscles to reach her uterus before Seif, the anesthesiologist, walked into the room.

"[Mota] was crying and screaming at the top of her lungs, that she could feel everything that was happening and was also pleading for help, and for Defendants to stop cutting her," until she passed out, according to the complaint.

Her fiancé, who was standing near the door to the operating room, had apparently tried to walk in but was stopped.

"I just kept saying to the nurse holding me back saying, 'I know you didn't cut her without anesthesia,'" Iheanachor said.

But the father said he understood why the decision was made to operate.

"She made the right decision, which i do agree with," Iheanachor said. "It was either take the baby out as soon as possible or she could have possibly died."

He questioned, however, why the hospital was not better prepared.

"Being at a hospital, no one should have to go through that type of surgery," he said.

Their daughter, Cali, is now 7 months old and doing well.

"She's a happy baby," Mota said.

In a claim filed against the hospital, the couple asked for $5.75 million in damages.

UPDATE

This story has been updated with comment from the hospital, and interviews with Delphina Mota and Paul Iheanachor.

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