Woman in China allegedly denied caesarean birth falls to her death

BEIJING • A pregnant woman's relatives and a hospital in Yulin in Shaanxi province in China are blaming each other for rejecting the woman's request to have a caesarean section, which allegedly led to her falling to her death from the fifth floor of the hospital.

The 26-year-old woman, Ms Ma Rongrong, who was a week away from delivery, was admitted to the First Hospital of Yulin to give birth on Aug 30, the hospital said in a statement on Sunday.

Medical checks showed that the baby's head was bigger than normal, suggesting higher risks during natural birth.

Ms Ma's doctor advised her and her family to have a caesarean section, but her family refused and signed a document at the hospital confirming that Ms Ma would deliver naturally, the statement said.

She was transferred to the delivery room on Aug 31, but later left the room several times due to pain.

She asked her husband to allow a caesarean section. Her doctor and nurses also advised her husband to allow the surgery, but all requests were rejected, the statement said.

Overwhelmed by pain, Ms Ma jumped out of the building later that day and died, it added.

But in his statement, Mr Yan Zhuangzhuang, Ms Ma's husband, said he had agreed to his wife's request for a caesarean section, but the doctor said his wife was going to give birth soon and, so, did not need a caesarean section.

Ms Ma's death has sparked an online debate in China on patients' medical rights.

Under government rules, medical institutions must get consent from patients and a signature from a family member before performing surgery, but doctors can decide without consent in emergencies.

Dr Gong Xiaoming, a gynaecologist at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, said pregnant women should have the right to decide whether to deliver via natural birth or caesarean section.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2010 showed that caesarean births accounted for 46 per cent of all births in 2007 and 2008 in China, much higher than the 15 per cent WHO recommends.

The medical authorities in China have taken measures to control caesarean births in the past few years as it is a surgical operation and the mother would need more days to recover. But a caesarean section is still the most effective measure against obstructed labour, said doctors.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Woman in China allegedly denied caesarean birth falls to her death'. Print Edition | Subscribe