April exam found no signs of pregnancy in comatose woman
PHOENIX — An Arizona woman in a vegetative state who was sexually assaulted and had a baby received a medical exam nearly nine months before giving birth, according to court documents.
The woman’s mother submitted an annual report as required by state law that included results of a physical done April 16 at a Phoenix long-term care facility where the 29-year-old patient lives.
The doctor who examined her found “no change” in her health, according to the form, and wrote that the exam was external only. Police said it appears that none of the facility’s staff members knew about the pregnancy until the Dec. 29 birth, a notion that has drawn skepticism.
But it’s possible there were no outward signs that would be noticed, especially by staffers who don’t work with pregnant patients, doctors say. The woman has tubes to feed her and help her breathe.
While factors remain unknown, such as how far along she was, someone who is fed the same amount from a tube every day might not show any dramatic changes, one doctor said.
The mother could lose weight in her face or arms if a fetus were consuming nutrients, the doctor added.
The revelation that an incapacitated woman was raped inside a care facility has horrified the community. The provider’s CEO resigned this week, and the center has made safety changes.
Phoenix police learned of the situation when they received a call on Dec. 29 about a newborn in distress. Officers launched a sex crime investigation when it was determined the mother was in a vegetative state.
The baby and the woman are recovering at an area hospital, and their conditions were not released.
Her family, who are members of the San Carlos Apache tribe in southeastern Arizona, said that they will care for the baby boy.
It’s possible the woman won’t have any additional long-term complications from giving birth. Phoenix police, meanwhile, have not ruled out any suspects in the assault. They are gathering DNA samples from the facility’s male staffers and have appealed to the public for any information.