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Doctor’s decision to overlook C-section results in lifelong issues for Cooper

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Cooper Ellis’ traumatic birth, near death and ongoing medical issues could have been avoided if doctors had recognised the need for a caesarean.

The nearly eight-year-old now lives with a series of physical impairments and brain damage because doctors at Perth’s Bentley Hospital insisted on delivering the then 4.6kg baby naturally and not by emergency caesarean.

Parents Chris Ellis and Michelle Hoglin are still haunted by the traumatic night – August 24, 2009 – when Cooper’s heart rate flatlined, requiring resuscitation for more than five minutes after doctors chose to forcefully deliver him naturally.

As a result of the pressure put on Cooper’s body during the birth he suffered perinatal asphyxia (oxygen deprivation), a fractured right collarbone, paralysis of his right arm, decreased muscle tone and renal impairment, which have led to a raft of permanent medical complications.

Mr Ellis said the family – which now includes Cooper’s younger brother Cody – now lives with the consequences of that traumatic night. He said Cooper presently requires an educational assistant at school and will struggle to live an independent life due to his inability to retain information and care for himself.

“The worst part about all of this is that all of this could have been avoided, it was a simple decision that wasn’t made,” Mr Ellis said.

“We love our son with all our hearts but it’s our hearts that have been broken by the lack of care provided that night.

“Michelle and I are still working through what we witnessed but it’s Cooper who has to live with the consequences and we’re still not sure what he’ll be capable of doing in the future.”

Doctors should have recognised foetal macrosomia – a baby weighing more than 4kg – which consequently should have resulted in a caesarean birth.

She said an ultrasound – which was not conducted - would have clearly shown how large Cooper was prior to his birth. She added that when Cooper’s head stopped descending down the birth canal for four hours, a C-section should have been the obvious decision. 

“The family has been traumatised and it’s staggering to think that one decision really could have made the world of difference.”