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Argentine 'miracle' baby found alive after death declaration

By Mariano Castillo, CNN
updated 5:39 AM EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A baby was declared dead at birth and taken to the morgue
  • The mother went to see her, and found her alive
  • Doctors and her parents can't explain what happened
  • The baby is in stable condition but in intensive care

(CNN) -- She was a tiny thing: 1 pound 12 ounces, cold as a frozen bottle and left for dead. But she would survive.

One-week-old Luz Milagros Veron is Argentina's miracle baby. Pronounced dead after her premature birth, the baby withstood more than 10 hours in a morgue refrigerator before being found alive.

"Today is the eighth day of my daughter's resurrection," the girl's father, Fabian Veron, told CNN Wednesday.

Doctors at the Perrando Hospital in northeast Argentina can't explain it, and every, doctor, nurse and morgue worker who dealt with the baby has been suspended as an investigation gets underway, officials said.

Luz Milagros remains in stable condition but she's in intensive care, a health official said.

Analia Boutet, the baby's mother, had given birth four times previously, and had recently suffered a miscarriage. This baby was born on April 3, three months early, and had no vital signs, hospital director Dr. Jose Luis Meirino told CNN.

The gynecologist on hand didn't find any signs of life, so he passed the baby to a neonatal doctor who also didn't find vital signs, Meirino said.

The doctors observed the baby for a while, and only then, pronounced her dead.

The hospital followed protocol, Meirino said.

Two morgue workers then put her body inside a little wooden coffin and placed it in the freezer.

"Up to that point, there were still no vital signs," the hospital director said.

That night, Boutet began insisting on seeing her dead daughter's body, Veron said.

She wanted to take a picture with her cell phone of the baby just as she lay, as a memory, the husband said.

It took some cajoling, but finally, hospital officials allowed the couple to visit the baby in the hospital morgue around 10 p.m., Veron said. As many as 12 hours had passed since the baby had been declared dead.

"They put the coffin on top of a stretcher and we looked for a little crowbar to open it because it was nailed shut," Veron told a local television station. "It was nailed shut. I put the crowbar in there and started prying. I took a breath and took the lid off."

Boutet approached the baby's body, touched her hand, and heard a cry, Veron told CNN.

She jumped back. "It's my imagination, it's my imagination," she repeated.

But the baby was alive, and crying.

Veron's brother-in-law rushed the baby back to the neonatal ward. He clutched her close to his chest for warmth. She felt like an ice-cold bottle against his body, the relative told Veron.

"I can't explain what happened. Only that God has performed a miracle," Veron said.

His daughter was given a fresh, if precarious chance, and along with it, a new name.

She was going to be named Lucia, but after finding her alive, her parents said she would be Luz Milagros -- the Spanish words for light and miracles.

In the meantime, an investigation has been launched at the hospital.

"I don't have an explanation for what happened, but if there is culpability we'll see what we'll do," Rafael Sabatinelli, deputy secretary of health in the Chaco region, told CNN.

"The personnel who were involved have responsibilities, and therefore, will have to be held accountable for their actions," he said in a statement.

Both Sabatinelli and Meirino said it was the first time they had witnessed an incident like this, but that a nearly identical thing happened in Israel in 2008.

In that case, a baby was found alive in a morgue refrigerator after having been declared dead.

Some doctors at the time said that it was possible that the low temperatures inside the refrigerator had slowed down the baby's metabolism and helped her survive. However, that baby later died.

CNN's Rafael Romo contributed to this report.

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