When a woman needed an emergency caesarean section at an Oceanside hospital last year, the anesthesiologist could not be quickly found — so the surgery was done without anesthesia, according to the woman, her fiance and their lawsuit.
Paul Iheanachor said he was in the hallway outside the operating room where hospital staff had taken his fiancee, Delfina Mota, when he knew something was wrong.
“I heard the screams, the horrific screams,” 35-year-old Iheanachor said Thursday. “That’s when I realized they were cutting her without anesthesia.”
Details of what the Oceanside couple said happened during the Nov. 16 birth are included in a lawsuit they filed last month naming Tri-City Medical Center, the surgeon and the anesthesiologist.
In response, Tri-City Medical Center issued a statement, saying, “Patient safety and quality are the utmost priorities for Tri-City Medical Center and all of our partners. Tri-City Healthcare District cannot comment further on pending litigation.”
The obstetrician, Dr. Sandra Lopez, and the anesthesiologist, Dr. David Seif, did not respond to requests for comment.
According to the suit, Mota was more than 41 weeks pregnant when she and Iheanachor headed to Tri-City Medical Center on Nov. 15. She was admitted to have her labor induced.
What had been a long, overnight labor turned urgent about 5:20 a.m. Nov. 16, when the fetal heart rate could not be read. Lopez “appropriately called for an emergency C-section,” according to the suit.
Moments later, 26-year-old Mota was in the operating room.
Seif, the suit states, did not respond to multiple pages.
Mota was strapped down to the table and the emergency surgery proceeded without anesthesia, according to the suit.
She was “crying and screaming at the top of her lungs, that she could feel everything that was happening, and was also pleading for help,” the suit states.
According to the suit, Seif rushed into the room during the operation.
On Thursday, Iheanachor recounted his moments in the hallway.
“I knew they were going to do an emergency C-section,” he said. “There was nothing they could have told me to prepare me for the screams that I heard and the feeling that I got when they started the surgery.”
Mota said she remembers, inside the operating room, the doctor saying, “Page him, keep paging him.”
Then “all of the sudden I felt cutting on my stomach … a burning sensation.”
Mota said she passed out from the pain.
“I understand why they did it,” Mota said. “But this is a hospital…. There should have been measures in place.”
The couple’s daughter, Cali, is now more than 7 months old. Her father says she is doing well. “The baby is perfect,” Iheanachor said.
The couple’s attorney, Norman Finkelstein, called the incident horrific.
“I’ve been doing this for like 35 years,” he said. “I am flabbergasted by it. I have never seen anything like it.”
The suit alleges medical malpractice, loss of consortium, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.
The suit does not lay out a specific monetary amount. But the claim the Oceanside couple filed with Tri-City before filing the lawsuit asked for $5.75 million.