Panicking staff members at a long-term US 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 on Saturday.
The roughly five minutes of audio from the December 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 centre 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 29-year-old woman, who has been incapacitated since age three, was sexually assaulted, police said. They are still seeking a suspect.
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.
Investigators collected DNA from the facility’s male employees and anyone else who may have had contact with her.
Authorities described the woman as being in a vegetative state for years on breathing and feeding tubes.
While staff at the Hacienda HealthCare facility told police they had no idea the woman was pregnant until she suddenly gave birth, experts say such a scenario, while possible, is highly unlikely.
“Anything is possible but I think that the rule of thumb would be that if you’re carrying a full-term-size baby and you’re not profoundly obese, that there would be some recognition of some growth of the abdomen for that particular pregnant woman,” said Dr Jordan Perlow, of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.