Two months after delivering stillborn baby, mother waits for signature before she can bury daughter

Posted at 6:07 AM, Mar 11, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana mother says two months after she delivered a stillborn baby, her daughter is still at a mortuary while she waits for a doctor to sign the death certificate.

Nicole Bonds, 32, was overjoyed to find out she was pregnant. Sadly, 19 weeks into her pregnancy, she had complications and delivered a stillborn baby girl at St. Vincent Women's Hospital in Indianapolis.

"It was very hard. It was so difficult for me," she said trying to hold back her tears.

In January, Bonds made plans to have her daughter  cremated. Two months later, her daughter is still at a mortuary.

"My baby needs to rest. There's no way she should be sitting in the freezer. It's not fair to anyone."

According to WXIN, several families in Indiana have faced similar delays. Leppert Mortuary & Crematory Services in Indianapolis said up to 40 percent of funerals face death certificate delays.

"We're seeing two to three months in delays in getting the death certificate signed. And that should be done within a seven-day period," complained Mike Moffitt, Director of Funeral Operations for Leppert Mortuary and Crown Hill. "It's usually a doctor's delay."

Moffitt blames physicians and the Indiana Death Registration System. It was created in 2009 to make it easy for doctors to sign death certificates. However, it's only creating delays, Moffitt said.

"Doctors could be on vacation for an extended period of time. Or... they're not familiar with the patient's medical history," he explained.

Some doctors don't want their name associated with the death out of fear there may be a malpractice lawsuit down the road.

"It's statewide," said Moffitt. "We're at their mercy, just like the families."

A spokesman for St. Vincent Women's Hospital told WXIN the physician who delivered the baby is responsible for signing the death certificate. That doctor is not a St. Vincent employee.

Bond said a fourth doctor is now working with Leppert Mortuary. She hopes this doctor will give her the signature she needs to give her child peace.

"As a parent, you're supposed to protect your child," said Bond. "Even though I lost my child, it's my duty to make sure she's laid to rest."