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Doctor says police could not have saved woman's baby

Saturday, September 6, 2008 | 6:11 p.m. CDT; updated 11:54 a.m. CDT, Sunday, September 7, 2008

KANSAS CITY - A pregnant woman who lost her baby the day after being arrested by police was suffering from a bacterial infection so severe that prompt medical attention would not have saved the baby, according to medical records filed in federal court.

Sofia Salva has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kansas City police, contending that police and jail officers caused her miscarriage by ignoring her pleas for help after she was arrested in February 2006 for using a false license tag on her car.

The two arresting officers, Kevin Schnell and Melody Spencer, were fired for not following police procedures during the arrest. The case drew national attention after a videotape was shown across the country showing Salva telling the officers she was pregnant, bleeding and in need of medical help.

But a report from Salva's doctor at Truman Medical Center said Salva was suffering from a severe infection in her uterus when she was stopped at about 11 p.m. Feb. 5, and there was little chance of saving the baby.

Sherri Jackson, a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Truman, said she began treating Salva at noon on Feb. 6, the day after she was arrested and spent the night in jail.

"My opinion ... regarding whether I or the other doctors at Truman Medical Center could have stopped Ms. Salva's spontaneous abortion if she had been brought to the hospital at 11 p.m. the prior evening is that it absolutely could not be prevented," Jackson wrote.

Jackson said Salva also had a "very elevated" white blood count and she feared the infection was so severe that Salva's life was endangered, the court records say.

An Atlanta pathologist hired by lawyers for the police officers also found evidence of a severe bacterial infection. The pathologist saw no evidence that "any action taken by the police after her initial contact with them on the evening of Feb. 5, 2006, would have prevented the ultimate demise of Baby Salva," according to court filings.

Salva's lawyer, Andrew Protzman, said a medical expert he has hired will contest the conclusions.

"He said he doesn't see anything in the medical records from Truman to show that this was an inevitable event that couldn't have been prevented through prompt medical treatment," Protzman said.

Friday's filings asked the judge to dismiss the case on legal grounds, contending that both sides agreed on the basic facts of the case. But Protzman said a jury should judge the facts.

"There are a multitude of facts in dispute," said Protzman, who said that he would file his response within 30 days.

 


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