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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, January 12, 2019 1:00 am

911 audio shows reaction after birth by comatose woman

TERRY TANG | Associated Press

PHOENIX – 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.

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.

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.