Opera singer suing hospital for episiotomy that left her with severe flatulence

Local residents wait for a Chinese opera performance at a makeshift theater during the "Hungry Ghost Festival" in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

Amy Herbst fears her career is over. The 33-year-old opera singer can no longer perform without passing gas.

Herbst and her husband, former Army Staff Sergeant James Herbst, are suing Fort Campbell’s Blachfiled Army Community Hospital in Kentucky over career-ending injuries that occurred while the singer was giving birth to their first child in February.

The couple, who live in Cincinnati, claim a nurse-midwife performed an episiotomy without telling them — no physician was there to assess or repair the procedure — and the botched incision, according to the lawsuit, caused Herbst "to experience fecal urgency and incontinence, including periodic leaking of stool and excessive flatulence."

"As a result of her incontinence and excessive flatulence, Herbst has been unable to work as a professional opera singer," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also claims that Herbst now suffers pain during sex.

Herbst is a mezzo-soprano. She last performed in Madame Butterfly with the Nashville Opera Company in October 2012, CBS News reported. She was able to manage the role because there were a limited number of performances.

"She is suffering through a very embarrassing and very significant injury, and frankly, the prognosis of a fully successful repair is pretty low," the singer’s lawyer, Charles Allen, told the Army Times.

"Her incontinence makes performing with any regularity impossible," he wrote in an email to CBS News.

A colorectal surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville assessed that Herbst would need reconstructive surgery to repair the damage, but can't guarantee it would alleviate the current problems or that it wouldn't need repeating in the future. The surgery would also necessitate that all of Herbst's future children be delivered via Cesarean section, which would pose even greater risk to her opera career.

The Herbts are delaying surgery until they decide whether to have more children, Allen said.

The Herbsts are seeking $2.5 million in damages.