Co­matose woman gives birth, leav­ing work­ers stunned

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - BY TERRY TANG As­so­ci­ated Press

Pan­ick­ing staff mem­bers at a long-term care facility scram­bled to save a baby born to an Ari­zona woman in a veg­e­ta­tive state amid their shock to learn she was preg­nant, ac­cord­ing to dra­matic 911 au­dio re­leased Fri­day.

The five min­utes of au­dio from the Dec. 29 birth starts with a fran­tic nurse at the Phoenix facility yelling, “The baby’s turn­ing blue! The baby’s turn­ing blue!”

“One of our pa­tients just had a baby, and we had no idea she was preg­nant,” the nurse said.

She then says the mother ap­peared sta­ble but care work­ers were ad­min­is­ter­ing CPR to the in­fant, who was still un­re­spon­sive. When the dis­patcher asked how far along the mother was in her preg­nancy, the nurse re­peated that it was a shock to ev­ery­one.

“This is a com­plete sur­prise. We were not ex­pect­ing this,” she said.

Within a few min­utes, the nurse ex­pressed re­lief, say­ing “thank God” the baby was now breath­ing and cry­ing.

Since that day, the woman and the baby boy have been re­cov­er­ing at a hospi­tal. Their con­di­tions have not been re­leased.

The 29-year-old woman, who has been in­ca­pac­i­tated since age 3, was sex­u­ally as­saulted, po­lice say, and they are try­ing to track down the as­sailant. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are col­lect­ing DNA from the facility’s male em­ploy­ees and any­one else who may have had con­tact with her.

The rev­e­la­tion that an in­ca­pac­i­tated woman was raped in­side a care facility has hor­ri­fied ad­vo­cates for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and the com­mu­nity at large. The CEO of Ha­cienda Health­Care re­signed this week as the provider an­nounced new safety mea­sures, in­clud­ing more than one staff mem­ber be­ing present dur­ing pa­tient in­ter­ac­tions and more scru­tiny of vis­i­tors.

The facility spe­cial­izes in pro­vid­ing around-the­clock care for in­fants, chil­dren and young adults with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties or who are “med­i­cally frag­ile.”

The no­tion that none of the woman’s care­givers knew she was preg­nant has drawn skep­ti­cism. But med­i­cal ex­perts say it’s pos­si­ble she dis­played no out­ward signs that work­ers would have no­ticed, es­pe­cially by staffers who don’t work with preg­nant pa­tients.

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, like a swollen belly, said Dr. C. Kevin Huls, a clin­i­cal as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor and ma­ter­nal-fe­tal medicine fel­low­ship direc­tor at the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona Col­lege of Medicine-Phoenix.

The mother could ac­tu­ally lose weight in other places like her face or arms if a fe­tus is con­sum­ing nu­tri­ents, Huls added.

“A good way to un­der­stand it is that re­ally, the baby’s go­ing to con­tinue to grow even at the ex­pense of the mom’s nutrition,” Huls said. “So, her weight may not change be­cause she’s not tak­ing in ad­di­tional calo­ries. There may be changes to her body that are go­ing to go un­de­tected in a chronic care con­di­tion or at a facility like this.”

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