Use of Forceps During Delivery Comes Under Fire in New Facebook Campaign

After Allen Coats and Rachel Melancon’s infant daughter suffered fatal birth injuries earlier this year due to a physician’s improper use of forceps during delivery, they created a Facebook campaign in an attempt to urge all healthcare providers to stop using forceps to deliver babies.

According to reports, infant Olivia Marie Coats was in the world for only five days before passing away at the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. She was delivered at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas on December 28, 2013, but during a long, difficult delivery, the baby’s heartbeat increased significantly during the 18-hour process. Labor and delivery was so arduous that Rachel Melancon developed a high fever and broke out into sweats.

According to the parents, they urged Dr. George T. Backardjiev to perform a cesarean section well before Rachel’s due date because of the baby’s large size. Yet, the doctor insisted that she didn’t need a C-section because it would leave a scar. Instead, Rachel went into labor and learned that her baby was positioned face up during delivery. Dr. Backardjiev tried unsuccessfully to turn the infant’s head. He then took a pair of small forceps and began pulling the baby out.

“(Backardjiev) kept going and even put his foot up not the bed trying to pull. When he touched the top and side of the skull, we heard a pop, like clay cracking in pottery and heard her skull crush,” Rachel said in a statement.

The forceps attempt was unsuccessful and eventually Rachel underwent a last minute C-section, but at that point, it was too late. The medical staff reportedly told Allen and Rachel that baby Olivia wasn’t breathing on her own after delivery and had a multitude of skull fractures. Additionally, her spine was allegedly cracked. At that point, the baby was sent to Children’s Memorial. She died only 5 days later on January 2.

Rachel had a healthy pregnancy without any problems at all up until the labor and delivery.

Rachel and Allen are now suing Dr. Backardjiev as well as The Medical Center of Southeast Texas. In addition, they created a Facebook campaign, entitled “Olivia Marie Coats,” that gives updates on the family’s updates as well as pushing for a law that bans the use of forceps during delivery in all circumstances. The page currently has over 103,000 members. The “Olivia Law” was also started so that others can learn about the risks of using forceps during delivery.

Reporters tried to reach out to Dr. Backardjiev, but he refused to return any calls or comment on the incident. Children’s Memorial Hospital, however, sent condolences to the family. A spokesperson for The Texas Medical stated that they aren’t allowed to comment on the incident due to federal medical privacy laws.

Olivia’s heart valve and skin tissue was donated to science.