14/08/2014 12:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Opera Singer's Botched Childbirth Operation Left Her So Flatulent She Couldn't Perform


An 'unnecessary' childbirth operation left an opera singer in so much pain and distress she was unable to perform.

Army wife Amy Herbst, 33, is suing for $2.5 million damages because she claims her episiotomy was botched, leaving her severely incontinent and suffering from embarrassing flatulence.

She claims the procedure was carried out without her consent and damaged both her digestive and reproductive systems.

An episiotomy, which involves cutting the tissue between the vagina and anus, is carried out to help deliver the baby and when the skin is in danger of tearing.

But Mrs Herbst claims that nurse-midwife Tiffany Williams carried out the procedure at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in February 2012 without her consent.

The lawsuit filed by Mrs Herbst and her husband, Staff Sergeant James Herbst, in Cincinnati federal court seeks $2.5 million from the government for negligence, as well as pain and suffering, embarrassment and loss of income.

It claims that Mrs Herbst, a mezzo-soprano, is now unable to work as a professional opera singer. She has performed with the Nashville Opera Company.

It states: "As a result of her incontinence and excessive flatulence, Herbst has been unable to work as a professional opera singer."

It has also left her with limitations on her sexual function, as well as pain during sex, the suit adds.

Mrs Herbst's lawyer, Charles Allen, told Army Times: "She is suffering through a very embarrassing and very significant injury, and frankly, the prognosis of a fully successful repair is pretty low."

The damage also means that she now suffers pain during sex, according to the lawsuit. As a result, her husband is also suing the government.

The lawsuit states: "At no time during the labor and delivery process was [she] informed about the possible need for or the risks and benefits of an episiotomy.

"At no time was she asked to consent, nor did she consent, to the performance of an episiotomy."

According to the website, birth records show that the procedure was carried out because the baby boy's shoulder was holding back the delivery. The nurse then repaired the tear using stitches.

Mrs Herbst's lawyer argued that the medics could have used other, safer ways to deliver the boy - but they did not.

He said: "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.

"The patient has a right to decide what's done with her body."

The hospital has not commented.