A mother in Argentina says her baby was found alive in a coffin at the local morgue nearly 12 hours after the child had been declared dead. Analia Bouter named her newborn Luz Milagros, or “Miracle Light.”
The tiny girl, born three months premature, is suffering from sepsis and convulsions along with signs of neurological damage, said Dr. Diana Vesco, neonatology chief at the Perrando hospital in Resistencia in northern Chaco province. She said the baby is on a ventilator and being treated with antibiotics.
Her mother, Analia Bouter, said she got a supportive call from President Cristina Fernandez on Wednesday asking to see the baby once she’s out of intensive care.
Luz Milagros faces a “risk of death commonly associated with her weight and gestational age at birth,” said Vesco.
The case became public Tuesday when Chaco’s deputy health minister, Rafael Sabatinelli, announced that five medical professionals had been suspended pending an official investigation of what happened.
Bouter told the TeleNoticias TV channel that doctors gave her a death certificate just 20 minutes after the baby was born and the baby was quickly put in a coffin and taken to the morgue’s refrigeration room. Twelve hours passed before she and her husband were able to open the coffin to say their last goodbyes.
She said that’s when the baby trembled. She thought it was her imagination — then she realized the little girl was alive and dropped to her knees on the morgue floor in shock.
The baby was so cold that “it was like carrying a bottle of ice,” Bouter said.
The hospital’s medical director, Jose Luis Meirino, said the facility has strict procedures and the girl was born “with no apparent vital signs.” The newborn was attended by obstetricians, gynecologists and a neonatologist, he said.
“About what happened afterward, we have no explanation,” he said.
Edward Bell, a University of Iowa specialist in premature infants, called it “a remarkable story.”
While there are many unanswered questions about the case, Bell offered a few theories about how it might have happened.
Babies born after only 26 weeks “aren’t considered to have much of a chance” of surviving in many parts of the world, he said. So, “perhaps justifiably,” the Argentine doctors might not have expected the infant to survive and that affected how they treated the baby.