The husband of a woman whose second child was delivered by cesarean section over her alleged initial objections told a jury Wednesday that a comment by the OB-GYN about her health after the girl’s birth led him to wrongly conclude his wife had died.
Testifying in the second day of trial of a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought by Zoltan Csizmadia and his wife, Rebecca Derohanian, against Dr. Michael Tahery, the witness said he was called by the physician on Feb. 18, 2015, and told to come to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Csizmadia, thinking the doctor called to congratulate on the birth of his healthy daughter, said Tahery told him Derohanian had complained about having a headache and that she had become unresponsive. Later, the two men talked at the hospital about the woman’s condition, Csizmadia said.
“He actually told me Rebecca didn’t make it,” Csizmadia said. “I thought she was dead.”
Csizmadia testified he told his mother-in-law about his belief Derohanian had died and that they were both left shocked. He said he wanted to go to his wife.
“I wanted to at least see her body,” he said.
Derohanian instead had suffered a traumatic brain injury from what her lawyers maintain was Tahery’s decision to deliver her daughter by C-section and her subsequent suffering of a subdural hematoma, which occurs when blood leaks from a torn vessel into a space below the dura mater, a membrane between the brain and the skull.
The couple’s lawyers allege the spinal anesthesia given Derohanian caused the subdural hematoma. Attorneys for Cedars-Sinai counter that Tehery acted reasonably in performing a C-section because the fetus was small in size and the baby girl was delivered weighing five pounds, one ounce.
Csizmadia, who brought the suit in February 2016, alleges medical negligence by Tahery in causing permanent brain injuries to Derohanian and loss of consortium for himself.
Tahery is the only remaining defendant in the suit because Csizmadia settled before trial the parts of the lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai and a second physician, Dr. Sara Churchill.
In his testimony, Csizmadia said he later learned from other physicians and medical staff members that Derohanian was indeed alive and was being worked upon so her condition could be stabilized.
“I was relieved she wasn’t dead,” said Csizmadia, who lives in Granada Hills and, like Derohanian, is 40 years old. He said he is his wife’s court-appointed conservator.
Csizmadia said he stayed with his wife through the night and played music for her.
“I told her all night that I loved her,” he said. “From this point on I pretty much lived in the hospital.”
Derohanian was released from Cedars-Sinai after three weeks and later spent time at multiple facilities, including a nursing home, Encino Medical Center and Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center, Csizmadia testified.
Derohanian at one point sneezed and said, “Excuse me,” but otherwise is a long way from her former self and shows little emotion even around her children, according to Csizmadia, who said he has spent thousands of dollars on his wife’s care and has not dated any other women since she was injured.
“I’m still married to her, I wouldn’t feel right doing that,” he said.
Derohanian has lived since December 2016 at Ryan’s Reach, a Coto de Caza care facility which provides assistance to people afflicted with injuries such as hers. She will never be able to care for herself again and has a shortened life expectancy because of her injuries, the couple’s lawyer, Joshua H. Haffner, told jurors during opening statements on Tuesday.
Csizmadia testified that the Ryan’s Reach staff has been helpful to his wife.
“They do the best they can,” Csizmadia said.