Yesterday police released the 911 call placed after a woman in a vegetative state gave birth at Hacienda HealthCare. The call is frantic and provides insight into the first moments after the woman delivered her baby. A nurse screams, “The baby is turning blue, the baby is turning blue!”
Phoenix Police Department released the 911 call placed from Hacienda HealthCare on December 29, 2018. A nurse called 911 following the unexpected birth of a baby from a patient living in a vegetative state.
In the call, the nurse frantically screams, “The baby is turning blue, the baby is turning blue!” Dispatch asks the nurse the location of the patient. The nurse attempts to answers questions from dispatch while also ensuring the safety of the baby and the mother.
As dispatch attempted to make sense of the situation, the nurse said, “One of our patients had a baby, and we had no idea she was pregnant.”
Dispatch asked, “I understand. Does she know how far along she was or anything?”
Then the nurse replied, “We have no idea, this is a complete surprise. We were not expecting this.”
For several minutes a paramedic on the phone guided the nurse about giving CPR to the baby. The nurse told the paramedic multiple times the baby was non-responsive. Noise in the background indicates people were giving compressions to the baby.
As the nurse describes the situation, the paramedic continues to provide instructions. Finally, after several minutes, a tiny cry is heard. The nurse tells the paramedic that the baby is finally breathing and exclaims, “Oh, thank god.”
As the baby cried, staff in the room worked to get vitals of the mother.
In addition to the 911 call, court records obtained by AZ Family shed new light on the woman’s condition. According to the documents, the woman is 29 years old. She had been living at Hacienda HealthCare for 27 years.
Despite early reports that she had been living in a vegetative state for 14 years, court records state her injury was a result of a near drowning when she was three years old.
The woman’s mother became her legal guardian when she turned 20 years old. Her mother lives on San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and visits her daughter twice a month.
During the 911 call, the nurse repeatedly said the staff had no idea the woman was pregnant. The court records of the woman’s care at the facility provided insight into how the pregnancy might have been missed.
According to the documents, the woman was receiving care for bowel treatments. Records indicate she needed surgery to remove a bowel obstruction.
AZ Family spoke with a gynecologist, Dr. Greg Marchand, who said a common side effect of bowel surgery is the build-up of scar tissue.
A few months ago, sources told AZ Family. The woman developed a mass on the side of her stomach.
Marchand said that scar tissue could tilt the uterus and cause the fetus to grow on a side where there is less scar tissue. Given the fact that the “mass” was on the side and not consistent with pregnancy, Marchand believes this might be how staff missed her pregnancy.
In addition to her surgery, the woman was prescribed multiple sedatives and medications to control her seizures. Marchand said the drugs could reduce fetal movements. Additionally, a fetus born with the medications in their system may struggle to breathe following the birth.
“If a baby is sedated with anything, especially a barbiturate like phenobarbital, the baby could not want to do that and be very sleepy and not be able to breathe well,” he said.
Even though the woman’s baby grew on the side, Marchand said there was no excuse for the staff to miss the pregnancy.
“I guess it could be mistaken for an abdominal tumor instead, but any tumor work-up at the beginning is going to require some kind of imaging, and that imaging is immediately going to give you the answer,” said Dr. Marchard.
There have been numerous questions about the health of the baby. The baby was born non-responsive and blue. He required resuscitation for several minutes following his birth. A child psychiatrist Dr. Mark Wellek told AZ Family,
“Phenobarbital, 90 milligrams. Twice a day for seizures. That’s a lot of phenobarbital. That would put most people to sleep most of the time,” said Wellek.
Wellek said the medications could cause developmental delays in the baby. He pointed to severe developmental disabilities, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities in the child. The fact that the baby was born non-responsive also adds to the chance of long-term neurological damage.
“On a scale from 0 to 100 percent, how likely do you think it’ll be that this baby has long term developmental effects?” asked reporter Briana Whitney.
“Eighty percent. That’s off the top of my head but I wouldn’t lower it below that,” Wellek said.
He said these symptoms likely won’t show up until between the ages of 4 and 7, but even with the baby brought back to life, the challenges likely have only just begun.
“Huge. Not just a problem, huge. And if this baby grows up just slightly delayed, that would be a miracle,” said Wellek.
*Katie Joy is a blogger and freelance writer. Her work is featured on Upworthy, Huffington Post, Yahoo Parents, Mamamia, Daily Beast, Cafe Stir, Newsweek, Jezebel, and The Daily Mail. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.