Woman in coma for 10 years gives birth

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Police have served a search warrant last Tuesday to get DNA from all male employees at a long-term care facility in Phoenix (USA) where a patient who had been in a vegetative state for years gave birth.

Male staff members at a Hacienda Healthcare centre in Phoenix, Arizona, were asked to give DNA samples as part of an investigation into how the patient got pregnant, according to a press release from the long-term care facility.

The chief executive of the company which cared for a Phoenix woman who gave birth despite having been in a vegetative state for 10 years has resigned.

Hacienda HealthCare’s chief executive, Bill Timmons, stepped down on Monday, spokesman David Leibowitz said.

The decision was unanimously accepted by the board of directors. Azfamily.com first reported that the woman, in a vegetative state after a near-drowning, delivered a baby on 29 December.

Her identity has not been reported and it is not known if she has a family or a guardian. It is also unclear if staff members at the Hacienda de Los Angeles facility were unaware of the pregnancy until the birth.

In a statement, board member Gary Orman said Hacienda “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation”.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees,” Orman said.

Hacienda HealthCare said it welcomed the DNA testing of employees. “We will continue to co-operate with Phoenix Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement.

Phoenix police say the matter is under investigation. They declined further comment.

San Carlos Apache officials announced Tuesday night that the 29-year-old woman was an enrolled member of the tribe, whose reservation is in south-eastern Arizona about 134 miles (215 kilometres) east of Phoenix. In a statement, tribal officials said the woman was still in a coma when she gave birth.

“On behalf of the tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” tribal chairman Terry Rambler said.

“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served.”

San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said Phoenix police “will do all they can to find the perpetrator” and his department will assist “in any way possible.”

The Hacienda facility serves infants, children and young adults who are “medically fragile” or have developmental disabilities, according to its website. The Arizona department of health services has said new safety measures have been implemented. – the guardian.com

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