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    Living Infant Declared Dead at Indian Hospital Narrowly Avoids Cremation

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    Parents discovered one of their newborn twins was alive right before a cremation ceremony for the infant was set to begin, six hours after an upscale hospital in Delhi, India, declared both babies dead and handed their bodies over to the family in a plastic bag.

    Max Hospital in north Delhi's Shalimar Bagh, which describes itself as "one of India's leading providers of comprehensive, seamless and integrated world class healthcare services," on November 30 mistakenly declared a prematurely born boy dead along with his stillborn twin sister, in a disturbing case of medical negligence.

    Narrating the whole incident, the boy's grandfather said that first the family was told that the baby girl was stillborn, while the boy was alive and had to be put on a ventilator in the nursery. He added that the hospital sought to charge them a hefty amount for keeping the infant in an incubator for three months.

    "The hospital said for three days [the incubator] will cost Rs. 1 lakh each ($1,500) and after that it would cost 50,000 [rupees, or $775] each day, and he had to be kept for three months," he said.

    But as the family decided to go to a smaller hospital, it was told that the boy was dead, too. The babies were reportedly handed over to their parents in a plastic package.

    As the grieving family was taking the twins to the cremation ground, they noticed squirming in the package and discovered that their baby boy was showing signs of life.

    "They handed us both bodies wrapped like a courier package from the back door. After we traveled three kilometers, we felt a movement in one [bag]. We ripped it open, found bits of plastic and the baby inside, breathing," the grandfather said.

    The family immediately took the baby to a nearby hospital in Pitampura where his condition is said to be stable.

    Union Health Minister JP Nadda described the incident as "heartbreaking" and said he had directed the Delhi government to look into the matter and take necessary action.

    ​According to Delhi Police chief spokesperson Deependra Pathak, the Delhi police have started an inquiry.

    ​Max Healthcare said in a statement that the "22 week premature baby" was handed over without any sign of life, adding that the doctor responsible for the blunder had been sent on leave.

    "We are shaken and concerned at this rare incident. We have initiated a detailed enquiry, pending which, the concerned doctor has been asked to proceed on leave immediately," the statement said. "We are in constant touch with the parents and are providing all the needed support."

    Max is not the only private hospital in India under scrutiny: another health care center is being investigated for overcharging the parents of a seven-year-old girl who died of dengue. The parents alleged that they were allowed to take their child's body only after they paid a Rs. 18 lakh bill (that's $27,900) that allegedly included the cost of 2,700 gloves. The charge is being investigated by the government.    

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    negligence, twins, baby, India
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