Before you or anyone you know goes into the
delivery room, there’s something you need to know.
Carol: 10 News reporter Kyung Lah joins us now with an exclusive Unit 10 investigation.
Kyung. Kyung: Well, hello, Carol. The procedure
that we’re talking about is called VBAC, vaginal birth after caesarean. Your first child is
born by caesarean, and for your second, you give birth vaginally. In the vast majority
of cases, the procedure is safe. The statistics show, one to five percent of the time, something
goes wrong. Women say their HMOs aren’t telling them in order to save money.
[music] The miracle of birth. A new, healthy baby
in the family. For the Galloways, it was just a dream.
Michelle: Oh, here we goes. Oh. Kyung: James is two years old.
Woman: That’s a good smile, James. That’s a good one.
Kyung: James has never cried, never laughed, never eaten through his mouth.
Michelle: Peekaboo. Kyung: But until the day he was born, James
Galloway was perfectly healthy. Michelle: The day of his delivery, just
everything went to hell. Kyung: James is Michelle Galloway’s second
child. Her first, Lauren, was born by caesarean. Doctors told her, with James, she could have
a vaginal birth. But they never warned her of any risks. When James was born, Michelle’s
uterus ruptured. Michelle: And I screamed, “Give me a caesarean,
give me a caesarean, he’s going to die, we’re going to die.” They told me to shut up.
Kyung: Without oxygen for 12 minutes, James was born severely brain damaged. Michelle
nearly died. She remained in the hospital for three months recovering and had 10 reconstructive
surgeries since the birth. Michelle: At 6:00, he gets his baclofen,
and his robinul. Kyung: Today, James survives with hourly
doses of medicine, suctioning every few minutes, 24 hour nursing, and a family for longs for
the boy who could have been. Lauren: I feel so sorry what happened to
him. Kyung: The Galloways say this didn’t have
to happen. It did because their HMO encourages women to have vaginal births when possible,
so they never warn women of the dangers of VBAC.
Dr. Bruce Fagel: Money. Kyung: Money is why HMOs want fewer C sections,
says, Dr. Bruce Fagel, an attorney and medical doctor. HMO’s Unit 10 contacted, say C sections
cost 4,000 to 6,000 dollars for a two to three day hospital stay. Vaginal births cost two
to 3,000, with a one or two day stay, half the cost.
Dr. Fagel: Because if they can get away with it, 99, 98, 95 percent of the time without
a significant injury, it is cheaper in the long run to have a vaginal delivery than a
caesarean section. Kyung: Even if the children are as damaged
as James. A 1975 law that still sits on California’s books says that James’ family, or any family
in California, can only receive 250,000 dollars max for pain and suffering. If you consider
only one to five percent of VBACs have problems, then it’s cheaper for HMOs to lower their
overall C section numbers. Dr. Fagel: It’s purely economics.
Kyung: Unit 10 contacted the largest HMOs in San Diego County. They all say they favor
VBAC, but don’t encourage it.