A Valley man is in grieving after his pregnant wife passed away in the ambulance. Doctors performed an emergency C-section and delivered their baby girl, but his daughter only survived for four days due to complications.
If that’s not horrible enough, Nathan Dobbins is now fighting Maricopa County to find out exactly what caused his wife’s sudden death.
Experts at the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office have already performed Nathan’s wife’s autopsy, but he’s still waiting for the death certificate, something he needs to move forward.
“I’ve spent a lot of time examining what’s happened,” said Dobbins.
After 8 ½ years of trying to get pregnant, in vitro fertilization finally helped his wife Amanda get pregnant. But then, six months before her due date, she noticed her hands and feet started swelling. On April 1, Amanda suffered a stroke and died on her way to the hospital.
“The doctors talked to me and told me that there wasn’t any possibility of reviving,” he said.
Doctors performed an emergency C-section. Initially Nathan’s daughter AunnaMarie survived.
“She’s a beautiful little girl,” he said.
But a lack of oxygen before and after delivery meant Nathan had to say goodbye to his daughter, four days after his wife.
“I wish that it was more time,” said Dobbins. “I was only able to hold her the last couple hours of her life.”
Nearly three months later now, Nathan cannot move forward, because he still hasn’t received Amanda’s death certificate from Maricopa County, including her cause of death, even though he’s already buried her. Without it, he can’t finalize his insurance.
“We’ve got probably $250,000 worth of medical billing,” he said. “A lot of it will be covered by insurance, but what’s not covered -- I’m starting to get phone calls.”
A Maricopa County spokesman told 12 News there’s a backlog at the Medical Examiner’s office, because they are short staffed right now, down four pathologists, but that the office completes 60 percent of cases within three days.
However, some can take up to six months. As of this month, officials said they have between 400 and 500 cases that have waited more than three months for final reports.
“Once we get that death certificate, the doctors can start reviewing what the results were,” he said.
Nathan hopes to get the documents soon, so he can take one step forward in this intense grieving process.
“I know that my daughter is with her mother in the next life and that whenever I’m gone eventually from this world, I’ll see them again,” he said.
Maricopa County told 12 News they plan to bring in four more pathologists, bringing their staffing total up from 11 to 15, to help alleviate the backlog. As for Nathan’s case, the county is working with him, trying to expedite his documents.