PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

January 2, 2014

Baby's death could leave lasting legacy

Parents proposing law to ban forcep usage during deliveries

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Olivia Marie Coats never had the chance to say a word during the short time she was alive, yet her voice is already being heard across the nation — loud enough to save lives.

Baby Olivia was taken off  life support in a Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston Wednesday, just four days after she was born on Dec. 28 at Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

Her parents, Rachel Melancon, 24, and Allen Coats, 25, believe their daughter’s death was the result of injuries received from the use of forceps during an attempted vaginal delivery. Olivia was eventually delivered by emergency cesarean section, but was unable to move or breathe on her own. She was ruled to be brain dead and transferred to the Houston hospital, Angie Coats, the baby’s grandmother, said.  

Coats said Olivia’s parents hope the death will not be in vain. They hope to see “Olivia’s Law” passed, banning all forceps deliveries in the United States.

During Olivia’s short life, a group Facebook page was started to bring awareness to her plight, and to the need for a law prohibiting all forceps deliveries.

Since the page was started, Coats said people from all over the U.S. have left messages of encouragement and support, and to relay their own horror stories of forceps deliveries.

“People are coming out of the woodwork with lifetime damages from forceps.  People are telling us that they were forceps babies,” Coats said.

Those heartstirring messages are what is keeping her son going during this difficult time, Coats said.

“All I heard my son say is ‘I want to save lives. I want this to never happen to another baby again,’” Coats said.  

Olivia’s mother feels the same.

“She is so proud of Olivia. Rachel says, ‘She has never even cried, but she is saying so much.’”

Coats said the family had been contacted by a state representative who offered assistance in getting the proposed law to legislators.

The law will just be one part of Olivia’s legacy. Her heart valves and skin tissue is being donated to help other babies in need.

Medical Center of Southeast Texas officials on Thursday issued the following statement concerning Olivia’s death.

“With our long history of care for newborns, this isolated incident rips at our hearts and words are insufficient to express how much our sympathies go to this loving family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Coats and their loved ones," said Matt Roberts, CEO for The Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

"Whenever there is an unexpected outcome in patient care, the hospital brings all involved caregivers together and reviews the circumstances in a comprehensive manner. While patient privacy and peer review restrictions prevent the hospital from commenting specifically, the hospital administration and independent medical staff immediately initiated a review of all aspects of this case. Our independent medical staff leadership shares in the hospital’s commitment to take all necessary actions to understand why this happened,” Roberts said.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Broussards’ Mortuary in Nederland, with burial following at Memory Gardens in Nederland.

An account to help defray funeral expenses has been set up at 5 Point Credit Union. The account number is 8765877.

Donations may also be made to Olivia Coats’ GoFundMe Page, or by purchasing T-shirts from www.booster.com/oliviamariecoats.

A balloon release in remembrance of Olivia is planned for 4 p.m. on Saturday Jan. 4, at Lions Den Park, 1802 Main St., Orange.

Those participating should bring their own helium balloons any size, color or design.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews