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Mother waits months for doctor’s signature to cremate stillborn daughter

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 10, 2015)-- FOX59 is taking action after discovering major delays in families getting death certificates for their loved ones. Nicole Bonds, 32, found herself in that situation this year.

UPDATE: Shortly after Fox 59 interviewed Bonds, she received word that the death certificate had been signed and her baby was cremated.

As a mother who'd already lost a child, Bonds was overjoyed to find out she was pregnant. However, at 19 weeks into her pregnancy, she had complications and delivered a stillborn baby girl at St. Vincent Women's Hospital.

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

Bonds made plans to have her daughter, Eva Lynn, cremated. But that was in January and two months later, her child is still at a mortuary.

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

As it turns out, her pain is shared by countless families across Indiana.

In the 800 some funerals a year put on by Leppert Mortuary and Crown Hill, about 30%-40% have faced a death certificate delay.

"We're seeing two to three-month 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, Moffitt said, it's only creating delays.

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

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

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

Moffitt said something needs to change.

"It's very frustrating. We can't conduct our business without the death certificate.

A spokesman for St. Vincent Women's Hospital told FOX59, the responsibility of signing the death certificate for Eva Lynn falls on the physicians who delivered her. That doctor is not a St. Vincent employee.

Bond said a fourth doctor is now working with Leppert Mortuary. She hopes this one 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."

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