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Mother, Severely Disabled during Childbirth, Fights for Custody

More than four years ago, a young mother held her newborn triplets in her arms for the last time. The three infants thrived and are healthy, but a series of medical errors after the birth left the mother severely disabled, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. During the ensuing years, the mother and father divorced and the two parties are now engaged in a protracted child custody dispute.

On the morning that she entered the hospital to give birth to her triplets, the mother was relatively healthy, despite having been on bed rest for several months. An earlier article describes what happened in the hospital, according to the mother's attorney in the malpractice case. The doctor nicked her uterus during the delivery resulting in massive blood loss. By early evening she had stopped breathing and shortly thereafter went into cardiac arrest. The defibrillator did not function properly and her brain was without oxygen for an extended period of time.

As a result of her injuries in the hospital, she is now unable to move or speak except through moving her eyes and blinking. The article reports that a medical malpractice settlement for $910,275 was used to establish a special-needs trust for her.

The article quotes a neurologist from the Medical University of South Carolina describing the mother's condition as "minimally conscious" and that it is impossible to know whether she can understand what people say to her. On the other hand, the doctor was also not able to exclude the possibility that she is able to recognize family members and enjoy their visits.

The mother's level of consciousness and understanding is at the center of the child custody dispute. The father's attorney is arguing that she is not sufficiently aware to realize when her children are present and that the children's grandparents are seeking custody on their daughter's behalf to increase their own visitation with the children.

Source: Los Angeles Times Disabled mother battling for visitation rights gets precious time with her kids Maria L. La Ganga, January 24, 2011

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