A California couple is suing an Oceanside hospital, claiming doctors performed a C-section on the woman with no anesthesia, leaving her conscious and alert for the painful procedure.
Delfina Mota, 26, was 41 weeks pregnant when doctors at Tri-City Medical Center rushed her into the operating room for an emergency C-section, the mom of two tells PEOPLE. She claims in her legal complaint that, with no anesthesiologist around, panicked doctors delivered the baby without the drugs on Nov. 16, 2017.
“I was crying because I was scared, I didn’t know what was going on. I was laying there and [obstetrician Dr. Sandra Lopez] was like, ‘We have to just do it,’ ” Mota says. “That’s when I felt them cut me open. Nurses were holding me down … I could feel her cutting me and, with her hands, opening me. That’s when I passed out.”
Outside the delivery room, Mota’s boyfriend, Paul Iheanachor, sat worried as they rushed Mota in to give birth. He says he became panicked when, as alleged in the legal complaint, he heard hospital officials call the anesthesiologist, Dr. David Seif, on the loudspeaker several times.
“I heard the most horrific screams you could ever imagine, multiple screams,” Iheanachor, 35, recalls. “Horrific screaming and then silence. That’s when I got really emotional and tried to get into the room. But there was a nurse outside the door and she prevented me from going in. All I kept saying is, ‘I know you guys didn’t cut her without any anesthesia.’ “
Mota and Iheanachor say Seif ran to the delivery room after Cali Iheanachor had been born. Mota says that when she regained consciousness, Seif was present and allegedly told her, “I’m gonna make you feel better now.”
The couple is now suing the hospital, Lopez and Seif for medical malpractice, assault, and battery — seeking more than $5 million in damages, according to the suit obtained by PEOPLE. The pair says they hope the suit prompts the hospital to put stricter policies in place so similar incidents don’t occur in the future.
“They kept asking what we remember. They tried to smooth it over and said, ‘These things happen,’ ” Iheanachor alleges of hospital staff. “They gave us a double room, so I could stay. They gave us a $25 gift certificate to the gift shop. They said, ‘Sorry for what happened, here’s a gift certificate.’ I feel like it was damage control. We were just in shock.”
It’s been eight months since what they describe as a “horrifying” incident, and Mota says she is still in pain from the procedure. She says doctors gave her pain medication, but it only makes her drowsy and tired. The situation has put a strain on the couple, and has even impacted the mother-baby bond, the parents claim.
“I still don’t feel like myself. It’s something traumatic. I’m scared now to have another baby,” Mota tells PEOPLE, noting that she remained in the hospital for three days after Cali’s birth.
“It really took a toll on me. I have [post-traumatic stress disorder],” she says. “I did not feel connected with my daughter. I was really depressed and my stomach took a lot longer to heal. I couldn’t take care of her by myself at first. My best friend had to come over and take care of her for me because I could barely walk.”
Neither Seif nor Lopez nor Tri-City Medical Center officials immediately responded to a request for comment from PEOPLE. However, the medical center denied the allegations in a statement to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The statement reportedly reads: “While we normally don’t comment on pending litigation, the patient’s public discussion of the care she received during her emergency C-section compels us to address this outrageous allegation. The patient was administered anesthesia prior to the surgery. We are pleased that the baby is ‘healthy’ and ‘happy.’ “