Opera singer out of work after surgery left her unable to sing due to chronic flatulence

Surgeons say the problem may be difficult to fix

An opera singer is suing the US government over claims that a botched operation during childbirth has left her with excessive flatulence that has threatened to ruin her career.

Amy Herbst, who previously performed with the Nashville Opera Company, claims that a nurse-midwife at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, performed an episiotomy during labour without her consent.

Ms Herbst, 33, and her husband, Staff Sgt. James Herbst, are seeking $2.5m compensation for negligence, as well as pain and suffering, embarrassment and loss of income.

Ms Herbst claims in the lawsuit filed at Cincinnati federal court that complications from the operation have damaged her reproductive and digestive systems. The lawsuit states: “As a result of her incontinence and excessive flatulence, Herbst has been unable to work as a professional opera singer.”

Birth records show that the position of Mrs Herbst’s child’s shoulder was delaying the delivery.

Her attorney, Charles Allen, said that while the position of the baby’s shoulder had probably led to the decision, there were other, safer ways of delivering the baby.

“There seemed to be an assumption that they didn’t need to involve the patient in the decision making... and they were completely wrong, as a matter of law and social responsibility,” Mr Allen said. “The patient has a right to decide what’s done with her body.”

An episiotomy is a surgical incision on the perineum and the posterior vaginal wall during the second stage of labour. The procedure is performed to widen the vaginal opening and is typically recommended  when there are difficulties delivering a baby and the skin is in danger of tearing or when a baby is in distress.

A nurse found that the tear had not healed properly leaving the mezzo-soprano with a ”complete breakdown of the episiotomy and perineum“.

A colorectal surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre has told Mrs Herbst that reconstructive surgery may be needed to repair any damage, but that it may not be enough to help her regain control, and further operations might be needed.

“She is suffering though a very embarrassing and very significant injury, and frankly, the prognosis of a fully successful repair is pretty low,” Mr Allen, told Army Times on Wednesday.

A hospital spokesperson told Army Times that the army has not reviewed the pending litigation and it would be inappropriate to offer comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor