`Stillborn' girl starts to breathe 40 minutes later

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The Independent Online
A NEWBORN girl declared dead by doctors defied medical opinion by breathing 40 minutes after she was apparently delivered stillborn.

The parents of Tiffany Taylor, now aged four weeks, have hailed their daughter's recovery as a "miracle" but have strongly criticised the Hope Hospital, Salford, Greater Manchester, for giving up on her.

Tiffany was born seemingly lifeless and medical staff spent 20 minutes trying to resuscitate her, without success.

Despite protests by her parents, 38-year-old Pauline Taylor and Tommy O'Connor, doctors pronounced Tiffany dead. But as a distraught Mr O'Connor cradled his daughter, Tiffany gasped for air and began breathing. Medical staff were alerted and she was taken to the neo-natal intensive care unit. Last weekend, after three weeks' treatment, she was allowed home.

The couple have been told Tiffany will have cerebral palsy because of oxygen starvation before birth and it will be 18 months before the extent of the condition is known - but they are just glad she is alive.

Mr O'Connor said: "She is home. She is a miracle baby."

Ms Taylor, a school welfare assistant from Eccles, said: "If it was not for Tommy holding her, she would not be alive."

She said the birth had to be induced because of problems with her blood pressure. Then, in the final minutes, monitors showed Tiffany was in distress.

"I saw all these doctors running in and out and I did not know what was going on," she said. "My first baby was stillborn 19 years ago and I had flashbacks to that."

Tiffany was put under a heat lamp and, after the attempts to revive her apparently failed, was handed to her father. Ms Taylor said: "They said she was dead and we said, `No, she's not'. For 20 minutes they argued - we literally begged them to try again."

Mr O'Connor said: "I saw that she was breathing, I was saying this to everybody, but a doctor told me she was dead and these were her last gasps."

The couple are considering lodging a complaint with Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust.

Hospital spokeswoman Amanda Thomas said: "Staff attempted to resuscitate Tiffany for 20 minutes - the national guideline for stillborn babies - and there were still no signs of life, including a heart beat ... it was 22 minutes after the resuscitation attempts were stopped that she gasped. Staff explained this does not necessarily mean she is alive because this can happen with stillborn babies. Then she gasped a second time, which is unusual, and it was at that point she was taken to the neo-natal intensive care unit."

She added: "I acknowledge the staff thought she was dead."