911 au­dio shows shock and panic after co­matose woman gave birth

Yuma Sun - - NEWS -

PHOENIX — Pan­ick­ing staff mem­bers at a longterm 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.

An emer­gency re­spon­der asked how far along the mother was in her preg­nancy. The nurse, still sound­ing stunned, said that no­body would know.

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

The para­medic asked if any­one was do­ing CPR and de­scribed how to do proper com­pres­sions with two fin­gers in the cen­ter of the baby’s chest. The nurse said work­ers were us­ing a re­sus­ci­ta­tion bag.

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

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 a woman in a veg­e­ta­tive state 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-the-clock 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 those 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.

She is de­scribed in a med­i­cal re­port as hav­ing tubes to feed her and help her breathe. 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.”

It also re­mains un­clear if any­one had no­ticed if the woman had stopped men­stru­at­ing.

Dr. Laura Mercer, a clin­i­cal as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor and OB-GYN clerk­ship direc­tor at the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona Col­lege of Medicine-Phoenix, said doc­u­ment­ing a men­strual cy­cle is as im­por­tant as record­ing other vi­tal signs and bod­ily func­tions. The ab­sence of a men­strual pe­riod for three months “should prompt a med­i­cal eval­u­a­tion,” Mercer said in an email.

The woman’s mother, who is her le­gal guardian, is re­quired un­der state law to sub­mit an an­nual re­port that in­cludes re­sults of a phys­i­cal, ac­cord­ing to Mari­copa County Su­pe­rior Court doc­u­ments. A doc­tor ex­am­ined the woman on April 16 and found “no change” in her health dur­ing an ex­ter­nal exam.

Her fam­ily, who are mem­bers of the San Car­los Apache tribe in south­east­ern Ari­zona, said in a state­ment through their at­tor­ney that they will care for the in­fant boy and have asked for pri­vacy.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

THIS JAN. 4 PHOTO SHOWS HA­CIENDA HEALTH­CARE IN PHOENIX. The rev­e­la­tion that a Phoenix woman in a veg­e­ta­tive state re­cently gave birth has prompted Ha­cienda Health­Care CEO Bill Timmons to re­sign, put­ting a spot­light on the safety of long-term care set­tings for pa­tients who are se­verely dis­abled or in­ca­pac­i­tated.

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