An Illinois woman is suing her doctor for “wrongful pregnancy” after a failed sterilization. Cynthia Williams claims a botched tubal ligation led to the birth of her daughter, who has sickle cell disease.
“I was livid,” Cynthia told ABCNews.com about finding out she was pregnant at age 40 with her daughter Kennadi. “I just lost it.”
Cynthia, now 44, lost her right ovary at the age of 12 to a cyst, and in December 2008, she had the sterilization surgery to tie her left Fallopian tube. Medical records reportedly indicate that her doctor, Byron A. Rosner, “tied,” “excised” and “cauterized” Cynthia’s right Fallopian tube—the wrong one. She got pregnant less than six months later. Her left tube was intact and “normal in appearance” at the time of her C-section.
Cynthia is seeking damages for “personal injury to her, emotional distress, and for lost wages” as well as “the extraordinary expenses” she expects to incur raising Kennadi, according to court documents.
Cynthia and her husband are both carriers of the sickle cell disease, which means each of their four children was born with a 25 percent chance of having it as well. After one of their three other children, now ages 25, 21 and 17, was born with the painful illness, Cynthia and her husband decided they would not have more children.
Cynthia started taking a birth control pill, but high blood pressure forced her to seek different options.
“I love Kennadi with all my heart, and that’s the honest-to-God truth,” Cynthia says. “But, it’s been a life change for everybody—my whole family.”
Her family has had to help care for Kennadi since Cynthia went into congestive heart failure shortly after her C-section delivery. She was in intensive care for two weeks and was absent from work for nine months.
Cynthia has since recovered, but 4-year-old Kennadi faces a lifetime of health problems that cause her pain and raise the risk of infection, stroke and organ failure.
Initially, Cynthia struggled with finding a lawyer who would take her case because according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as many as 37 per 1,000 women become pregnant within 10 years after tubal ligation, a method of birth control that is considered “permanent.”
Cynthia found attorney Beverly Spearman, who discovered that the case, which was filed in November 2010, was the first of its kind in Illinois. Although Illinois law does not allow parents to recover costs associated with raising a child born with a genetic defect after an unsuccessful sterilization procedure, an appellate court ruled that the case could move forward in February 2014.
“It’s not fair. [Kennadi] is the absolute love of my life, but it’s hard,” Cynthia says. “Sometimes people think I’m her grandmother.”