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Baby Girl Is Recovering After Hospital Mistakenly Leaves Her for Dead

Update Date: Feb 20, 2013 12:15 PM EST

On Sunday morning in Toronto, a baby girl was declared dead, and a sheet was placed over her body. Two hours later, a pair of police officers noticed movement under the sheet. After checking for a pulse, the officers discovered that the infant was alive.

What happened?

Earlier that morning, the infant's mother felt ill, so she and the infant's grandmother set off to the hospital. According to the Toronto Star, it was a cold day; at -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), with a wind chill of -23 degrees Celsius (-9.4 degrees Fahrenheit), the city had issued an extreme cold alert. However, just 500 meters (0.3 miles) from the hospital, the mother went into labor. She gave birth on the sidewalk.

Paramedics arrived and brought the mother and child to the hospital, where medical staff tried to revive the infant. They pronounced the child dead and covered the baby with a sheet. A pair of police officers were instructed to remain with the baby until the coroner arrived.

After nearly two hours, however, the police officers noticed that the body was moving. They checked for a pulse and found one - the baby was alive. Immediately, they alerted the medical staff, who confirmed that the infant was alive. She and her mother are both in stable condition at the hospital.

According to the Globe and Mail, the nearly tragic story likely occurred because of hypothermia. In extreme cold, the body - especially that of a child's - slows the metabolism and brain activity. The person may slip into a deep coma, during which time a person's pulse can be undetectable. Interestingly, though the emergency response can sometimes cause brain damage, it can also often stave off neurological damage. Then, when the body warms, regular bodily function resumes.

In order to prevent such mishaps, emergency workers are generally advised to make sure that the body is "warm and dead". Because hypothermic bodies look similar to dead ones, emergency workers typically wait until the body is warmed to determine whether a person is dead or not.

According to the CBC, the hospital is currently undergoing a review of its procedures in order to determine how the baby was wrongly determined to be dead.

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