Two doctors have been fired and a police investigation launched after a baby who was declared dead at a New Delhi hospital woke up on the way to his own funeral.
The baby boy and his twin sister were born prematurely at just 22 weeks, according to local media and NDTV, with the girl stillborn and the boy in critical condition.
Doctors at Max hospital declared the boy dead soon after and he was returned to the family “wrapped like a courier package from the back door”, according to NDTV.
Some six hours later and on the way to perform funeral rites, however, the parents reportedly noticed movement inside the polythene bag and discovered he was breathing.
“When we opened the bag, we found the boy breathing. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” the baby’s grandfather, Praveen Malik, told CNN.
The family then rushed the baby to another hospital where, according to Indian TV, they were told it would cost 100,000 rupees (£1,150) for three days’ treatment in an intensive care unit.
“He is on life support,” the boy’s uncle Deepak told The Hindu. “The doctors at the [new hospital] told us that the boy has several infections because he was exposed to the environment and had been wrapped in plastic. They haven’t told us whether he’ll survive.”
The incident at one of the capital’s most upmarket hospitals has provoked a national debate about the state of Indian private healthcare, which can be prohibitively expensive.
Following the news of the incident, state health minister Satyendar Jain said on Twitter he had ordered an inquiry, and India’s federal health minister JP Nadda called it “heartbreaking”.
The two doctors who were fired may also be subject to police charges. Their dismissal was “strict action... taken on the basis of our initial discussions with experts”, a statement from Max hospital read.
“While the inquiry by the expert group which includes external experts from Indian Medical Association (IMA) is still in process, we have decided to terminate the services of the two treating doctors.”
The hospital said the IMA investigation was expected to be concluded on Tuesday. If the state’s own probe finds the hospital guilty of medical negligence, it could have its licence revoked.
There have been a number of reports in recent months of alleged negligence in Indian hospitals. According to the BBC, last month a girl died of dengue fever at another private hospital, with the parents alleging that they were overcharged for her treatment.
And in August, more than 60 children died at a hospital in Gorakhpur after the facility’s oxygen supply ran out amid a financial dispute with suppliers.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies