INVESTIGATION: State officials are investigating the deaths of two women during childbirth over a month period at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. Inset, Boston medical malpractice lawyer Andrew Meyer.
Two young fathers are searching for answers and grasping with the reality of raising children alone after both their wives died in childbirth at South Shore Hospital in the span of a month.
Such deaths typically occur only two or three times a year statewide, and both state and hospital officials are investigating what happened at the Weymouth hospital.
Colleen A. Celia, 32, of Middleboro died last Wednesday, leaving four children, including her newborn baby girl, Mya, after suffering an amniotic fluid embolism. Christie Lee Fazio, 30, of Marshfield died Dec. 14 after giving birth to her first child, a healthy baby boy named Jonathan. She had complications from a Caesarean section.
“I was in the room with her. I wouldn’t leave her,” Colleen’s husband, Paul Celia, 31, told the Herald last night. “They tried everything they could to save her.
“I’m not angry,” the grieving husband said. “I just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
John Fazio, 27, told the Herald he takes comfort knowing his wife is “with the Lord” and no longer in pain.
“She loved the Lord,” Fazio said. “She lived life every day loving her family and friends.”
Colleen Celia was a patient service coordinator for Vanguard Medical of Braintree. Christie Fazio, a registered nurse, worked for Golden Living, a chain of elderly assisted living centers.
Both women saw their babies before they died, their husbands said.
Both men are getting help from family members to care for their newborns. They described the new babies as blessings that came out of tragedy.
“I definitely see Christie’s face in him,” Fazio said. “I get strength from that smile.”
Paul Celia called baby Mya “the most perfect gift.”
The Weymouth hospital has launched its own review but is defending its medical staff and calling the deaths unpreventable.
“Our teams responded to both cases swiftly and aggressively — they did everything possible,” a South Shore statement reads. “It is too early to know the exact nature of the underlying factors that led to these tragic outcomes. All signs suggest that the two situations were unrelated, unanticipated and unpreventable.”
The hospital, which delivers about 3,600 babies a year, refused to comment further, and did not identify the doctors involved.
Childbirth-related deaths are considered “serious reportable events” by the state Department of Public Health, which is investigating. Massachusetts recorded just three maternal deaths in 2012, three in 2011 and two in 2010, according to a report from the state Board of Registration in Medicine.
The board’s online physician profile database shows no discipline or malpractice decision against obstetricians who South Shore Hospital lists as working there.
“In this day and age, maternal deaths in most circumstances should not occur,” said Boston medical malpractice lawyer Andrew Meyer. “There are those rare cases when they do occur ... but the reality is in 2014, healthy mothers going into childbirth should not run into fatal complications.”
Dr. Erin Tracy, a Massachusetts General Hospital obstetrician, said maternity deaths are “rare, thankfully, because in the hospital setting patients are closely monitored for potential evolving complications.” But she added even with modern medical techniques, medicine and equipment, they are “unfortunately not always entirely preventable even in the best of hands.”