Friday, June 20, 2008

Indian baby 'back from the dead'

Hospital authorities in India have ordered an independent inquiry after a baby was declared dead, only to make an apparently miraculous return to life.

The baby girl - born in the city of Mumbai (Bombay) - was diagnosed as stillborn on Monday night.

But she astonished her distraught family by gurgling as they took her off to the cemetery the next day.

It is thought she revived after the effect of drugs - given to her mother during a complicated labour - wore off.

Hospital authorities say they are now investigating possible negligence by staff who attended the birth.

'Limp at birth'

"We have to fix responsibility," said Dr Suleiman Merchant, acting dean of Sion Hospital in Mumbai where the child was delivered.

Under such circumstances, it would appear that doctors had no reason to assume that the baby was dead
Dr Suleiman Merchant

"The doctors who were on duty are being questioned and the inquiry will last the entire day."

Correspondents say that it is not clear when or even if the results of the independent inquiry will be made public.

Dr Merchant said that the 30-year-old mother of the child - who was seven months pregnant - suffered life threatening convulsions and high blood pressure over the weekend, which required powerful medicines.

He said that that the doctors believed that the baby - who was limp at birth - had no heart beat and no pulse.

She was given a death certificate on Tuesday morning and two hours later her body was handed over to her parents.

But later, when the effect of medicines wore off, Dr Merchant said that the baby "showed attempts to breathe".

"Under such circumstances, it would appear that doctors had no reason to assume that the baby was dead," he said. "There is on the face of it a case of negligence to be answered."

As the grieving parents made their way to the cemetery, the baby reportedly started gurgling and was rushed back to the hospital.

She is reported still to be in a critical condition and is on a ventilator.

Medical experts say the most likely explanation for what happened is that drugs given to the mother suppressed the baby's heart beat - which would have grown stronger once the effects of the drugs wore off.

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