As soon as Haiden was born, Kassie Rivera knew something was wrong.

“He wasn’t crying when he was born,” she said. “I knew that something wasn’t right. He wasn’t moving, he didn’t cry. He wouldn’t drink out of a bottle.”

Haiden was born from induced labor at more than 37 weeks on Sept. 12, 2008, at Fort Hood’s Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. The baby was airlifted three days later to a hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and remained hospitalized for about eight days.

Eventually, Rivera said the doctors sat her down to explain what went wrong — Haiden suffered severe brain damage during birth and would likely develop cerebral palsy.

The first-time mom immediately went home to research what she’d heard, only to discover that this was not a birth defect.

“It’s nothing inherited, it’s a trauma,” Rivera said.

On Tuesday, James R. Nowlin, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western Division of Texas in Austin, signed an order for the federal government to pay Rivera $6.5 million for negligence during labor that led to Haiden to be born severely brain damaged. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Rivera’s lawyer, Kenneth Suggs, said the order now awaits final signatures at the Justice Department, but is otherwise, “a done deal.”

The suit alleged doctors ignored evidence that Rivera’s contractions were overstimulated by the excessive use of oxytocin causing severe distress in the baby and the need for immediate delivery by caesarean section.

“There’s a part of me that does have a bit of hatred,” Rivera said. “If they’d have done things different, it would have been a different outcome for Haiden. That’s the hardest part to get over.”

But Rivera and her family are able “to start a new chapter now,” she said.

At the time of the birth, Rivera and her husband, Iraq War veteran Higinio Rivera, were stationed at Fort Hood. The couple have since had another son together and live in Michigan, where extended family can help take care of Haiden, who is nonverbal, can’t walk and must be fed through a feeding tube.

“Life is different for him, but for the most part, he’s happy,” Kassie Rivera said of her now 5-year-old son.

Having this money, she said, lets her know Haiden will always be taken care of, even if something were to happen to her.

“That worry is not there anymore,” she said, fighting off tears. “I fought for him because I knew in my heart that there was injustice done, and it’s a sense of pride and relief knowing I was able to fight for him.”

Darnall deferred comment to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which said the litigation was still pending and it, too, could not comment on the settlement.

For a long time, Kassie Rivera said she felt anger and blame for what happened to Haiden. Now, she’s made peace with everything, and focuses her energy on caring for her children.

“I’m extremely blessed to have Haiden,” she said. “He’s definitely changed my life for the better. I can’t imagine not having him. I’d rather have him how he is — good days, bad days, all the hospital visits. I’d rather have him as he is now that not have him at all.”

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

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Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

(5) comments


Good evening, I wanted to reach out to you in support. Your story is my story. My experience was exactly like mine. With the exception that when I reported to labor and delivery they noticed that my daughter was not reacting to the contractions like she should have. But they proceeded with the OxyContin with resulted in the same reaction and obvious results has you. I was a young, married soldier who was having her first child. I trusted the doctor and staff. My experience was frightening and disbelieving at the same time. My family and I knew that mistakes were made but I could not sue because I was a soldier. It took me 10 years to heal and make the attempt to have another child. My daughter is now 21 years. It has been very hard mentally, physically and financially but we have made it through. We were told the worst and not to expect much from her. It took 6 months and a civilian doctor to tell me a diagnosis if cerebral palsy. We have great moments, just her still being here. Last month I was informed that she will be able to receive her high school diploma and be able to be pushed across the stage like " normal" kids. I cried for a full hour in the parking lot of the school. I was an emotional mess but in a good way. I rejoiced with family and friends with the news. So you and your family keep fighting for Haiden. Love him up. Congrants .


Texasgoat the medicine oxytocin was used to induce my labor with Haiden. I had no control over how much of it they were giving me in the hospital, so your assumption is wrong, I did not contribute to the fate of my son.


.....the excessive use of oxytocin causing severe distress in the baby..looks as if the mother contributed to the fate of this child.


Oxytocin is a drug to induce contractions. It is given and monitored by the doctors. The mother would have not control over it. I believe you are confusing this with Oxycontin which is a narcotic.

Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er

Since I can remember...Darnell has had a bad reputation in the Labor and Delivery department.
Why are some doctors and nurses so callus?
What about their oath...hmm
Were the doctors and nurses also charged with neglect?
Not only should the government be responsible, but the doctors and nurses involved should be held accountable for their part....fired and discharged.

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