'Back from the dead' baby fighting for life

Wednesday 25 June 2008 14:31 BST

A baby pronounced dead after falling into a river today is being treated in hospital after medics detected a faint heartbeat, police said.

The girl, thought to be aged about 18 months, is in a critical condition after falling into the River Thames near Goring in Oxfordshire at about 9.45am today.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: "The child, a girl aged around 18 months, was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital where she was initially thought to be dead. However a very faint heartbeat was then discovered. She remains in hospital in a critical condition.

"The mother and her other child, who were also on the river bank, were also taken to the hospital for precautionary measures."

Sergeant Graham Pink, of Thames Valley Police, said: "The child was pronounced dead at the John Radcliffe Hospital - before a very faint heartbeat was discovered. The child remains in a critical condition.

"The initial report was that the child had died. We put a statement out saying the child was dead and we would not have done that unless we had been told she was dead."

The baby's mother and her other child, who were also on the river bank, were also taken to hospital, he said.

Police said they believe the child fell off a bank into the river near Ferry Lane in Goring.

The scene, about half a mile downstream from pop star George Michael's house, was cordoned off today as officers, including divers, investigated.

Sgt Pink said a man in a boat is believed to have seen the baby in the water and jumped in to help.

A spokeswoman for South Central Ambulance Service said: "We were called to a report of a possible drowning, with a female and a child in the water.

"When we arrived, the toddler was out of the water. She was unconscious and not breathing. We did not declare her dead."

The spokeswoman said the toddler was treated near Goring Lock and then airlifted to hospital.

She said resuscitation efforts continued on the journey to hospital.

The spokeswoman said a woman and another child were taken to hospital by land ambulance but did not require medical treatment.

A spokeswoman for the John Radcliffe Hospital refused to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust said she "could not comment" on police suggestions that medics from the trust first declared the girl dead, then realised she was alive.

She said: "A faint heartbeat was discovered as doctors tried to resuscitate her. She is now in a critical condition."

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