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Woman sues Richmond Hospital for birth injury after two decades

Jade Balan claims her right arm was paralyzed due to shoulder dystocia during her birth.
North side of the Richmond Hospital on July 14, 2023, in Richmond, B.C.

A woman is suing Richmond Hospital for allegedly paralyzing her arm during her birth more than 20 years ago.

Jade Balan, who was born in 2001, filed the lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court in 2019.

Two obstetricians, Harley Mackoff and Timothy Ng, and two unnamed nurses were also named as defendants in the civil lawsuit.

According to Jade’s notice of civil claim, her right arm was paralyzed as a result of how the obstetricians handled her shoulder dystocia during labour.

Ng “applied forceful traction to (Jade’s) head,” according to the lawsuit, when her shoulder was stuck behind her mother’s pubic bone. As a result, she sustained a “severe brachial plexus injury” that led to her paralysis.

Jade claims Richmond Hospital and the doctors should have warned her mother, Carlina Balan, about the risks of shoulder dystocia and should have recommended a caesarian section rather than proceeding with natural birth.

Carlina was at risk for shoulder dystocia, said Jade, due to factors including obesity during pregnancy, diabetes, having previously given birth to a large baby and having a pelvis “insufficient for the birth of a large baby.”

She added Ng failed to reposition her body to free the shoulder and he shouldn’t have pulled on her head.

Jade claims Carlina would have opted for a caesarian section had she “been appropriately counselled on risks.”

She is seeking general and special damages.

According to Jade, she has suffered and will continue to suffer pain, loss of enjoyment of life, wage loss, loss of earning and housekeeping capacity, loss of “the potential for an interdependent relationship” and other costs and medical expenses.

Carina is acting as Jade’s litigation guardian.

Richmond Hospital, Mackoff and Ng have denied the allegations.

In response to the lawsuit, Richmond Hospital said there was no negligence and it and its employees acted according to the standard accepted practice.

It also denies Jade suffered the alleged losses.

Mackoff and Ng added Carlina was “adequately informed as to the risks associated with the medical treatment she received and gave her consent to the medical treatment knowing of those risks.”

None of the claims have been proven in court.

A trial by a Supreme Court judge is scheduled for Sept. 25.