The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Stillborn’ baby homeward bound

A premature baby boy allegedly pronounced stillborn at Belle Vue Clinic three months ago was declared fit enough to be taken home by doctors of Calcutta Medical Research Unit (CMRI) on Sunday.

The boy, named Arjun by his father for his “miraculous tenacity”, was born 24 weeks premature at 1.20am on July 1 at Belle Vue Clinic. He had infections and an immature digestive system. Only five per cent of such babies survive, according to a specialist.

With doctors not present at Belle Vue, nurses had declared the baby dead, said his mother Sangita Das.

When she and her husband found the baby alive about 10 hours later, they rushed him to CMRI.

“When the baby was brought to us, he weighed only 700 grams and his heart, lungs and kidneys were not functioning properly. He was on life support for three weeks and was then kept in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for over two months,” said Kakoli Acharya, who is treating Arjun.

He lost weight for two months and did not urinate in the first month. He has gained weight only in the past four weeks and now weighs around 1.2 kg, added Acharya.

Once home, Arjun will be kept in a special “ICU-like room where no one will be allowed”, said his father Manas Das, a trader from Howrah.

He threatened to sue the Belle Vue authorities. “We have spent about Rs 9 lakh on the baby’s treatment. The clinic should compensate us,” added Manas.

The CMRI authorities also alleged negligence on Belle Vue’s part. “Having doctors present round the clock is a must. I believe they will learn from their mistakes,” said Rupak Barua, the chief operating officer of the hospital.

The state health department had set up a committee to probe the charges.

“There was no negligence on the part of the hospital and the best possible care was given at that time. This is proved by the fact that the baby survived,” said P. Tandon, the chief executive officer of Belle Vue Clinic.

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