‘I want to feel the baby again to be sure, can’t trust doctors

The grandmother of the infant, declared dead by Safdarjung hospital doctors on Sunday, found him alive when she touched him. The premature baby died the next day.

NEW DELHI: Janaki Devi, 58, was devastated to know that her daughter-in-law had a still birth. The deaf grandmother, however, insisted that she must be allowed to touch the infant’s body before it is cremated.

‘I want to feel the baby again to be sure, can’t trust doctors
Janaki Devi, 58, with her other grandchildren.The infant, delivered at the Safdarjung Hospital on Sunday at 5am, was said to be 24-weeksold — a full-term pregnancy gestation is 40 weeks — and weighed 460gm. After attempts to revive the baby failed, doctors handed the body to the family in a sealed packet.

However, when the family brought the body home on Janaki’s insistence, they came to know that the infant was “alive”.

When the baby was brought to their home in Bilaspur Camp in south Delhi, most relatives and neighbours had insisted on cremating him immediately.

But the wailing grandmother wanted to spend a few alone moments with the ‘dead’ baby. “She wanted to see her grandson’s face once and bless him before he was sent away forever. We let her take the packet into a room,” said Kali Ram, the grandfather.

“I had not even opened the packet. I was just fondling the child from outside to bless him when I felt something move. Initially I believed it was my imagination because I have never heard of any dead person coming back to life. But when I felt it move a second time, I stopped crying to observe the packet,” recounted Devi.

“Since I am deaf, I could not hear anything, but I felt weak heart beats. I decided to inform everyone. It is a miracle that the child survived despite being in a packet for so many hours,” she said. Relatives tore the packet to find the child breathing and kicking.

The entire neighbourhood gathered outside the house within minutes. “Some people were crying with joy. Others were saying the baby was the incarnation of god. But Rohit (the baby’s father), told everyone that he had a feeling right from the start that the baby was alive,” said the baby’s aunt, Poonam. The discovery had left the 58-year-old woman pleasantly shocked, overjoyed and hopeful. However, her hopes came crashing down a day later after the premature baby failed to pull through, despite treatment at the same hospital.

On Tuesday, the grandmother waited impatiently for the baby’s body to be brought home as she wouldn’t believe the doctors anymore. “I will feel the baby in my hands to confirm he is really dead this time. Doctors cannot be believed anymore,” the grandmother, Janaki Devi, told HT between sobs.

The baby’s father, Rohit Tandon, has had little time to come to terms with the twists and turns in his life. From the time his baby was admitted to the hospital for treatment by doctors till Tuesday, he has been running between two wards.

In one ward is his wife receiving post-birth care and in the other is his four-year-old son, Avinash alias Chintu who was born with a damaged kidney. “We learnt about his kidney problem a year ago. He is receiving treatment at Safdarjung since early this month,” said Tandon.

Ironically for Rohit, while the first and “wrong” news of his baby’s death was given to him by doctors, he learnt about his baby’s death from the media. “No one at the hospital cared to inform him about the death. The doctors must be busy in making sure they did not repeat the mistake. I saw the news of the death on news channels and called him. He was unaware of it,” said Poonam.

Meanwhile, the hospital and the Union health ministry have begun an inquiry into case. A team is investigating to identify why the baby was declared dead and handed over to the family.

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