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Posted by Aurino Souza on November 15, 2003 16:31:24 UTC

Revived toddler baffles doctors

Alive, 39 minutes after her `death' Found breathing on hospital table

FULLERTON, Calif.óDetective Mike Kendrick began photographing the body of a little girl on an emergency room table for an investigation into her drowning.

Then, through the lens, he saw her chest move. Just spasms, he thought. Then he saw it move again.

"Am I seeing things? Does she look like she's breathing?" Kendrick asked his partner more than a week ago.

Earlier, Kendrick had told the girl's mother, Melissa Jespersen, that the 20-month-old toddler, Mackayala, had been pronounced dead after paramedics had been unable to save her.

They had struggled to revive her with CPR, breathing tubes, a heated blanket.

The woman went limp, fell to the floor and curled into a fetal position, he said.

"The look on this mom's face was absolute horror and disbelief," Kendrick said.

But 39 minutes after she had been declared dead, Mackayala was indeed alive.

Yesterday, the girl was listed in serious condition at Children's Hospital of Orange County, where she was transferred from another hospital after being revived.

Her case has baffled hospital and emergency workers and the Medical Board of California has launched an inquiry into whether physician error played a role.

After the child's chest appeared to move, the detectives alerted nurses and doctors. Machines were turned back on.

Yesterday, although the girl was breathing without a ventilator and moving her eyes, she was not fully alert, said a hospital spokesperson.

Earlier this week, a doctor said brain scans showed no serious brain damage.

Mackayala slipped out the back door of her family's home in Fullerton, about 50 kilometres south of Los Angeles, on Nov. 7. A family member found her face down in the swimming pool, say police.

Kendrick said he also had the job of telling Mackayala's mother that her daughter was alive.

She fell to her knees and thanked God, he said.


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