Baby born on freezing Toronto sidewalk declared dead, revives

The Toronto Police Department credits two police officers for saving the life of a baby girl who was pronounced dead by Toronto hospital medical staff.

A baby born on a frozen Toronto sidewalk Sunday was mistakenly pronounced dead at a hospital but later revived when two police officers noticed movement under the sheet that had been placed over her.

"It was an extraordinary day for the officers and the baby girl," Toronto Police Department spokesperson Constable Wendy Drummond told MSN News. "It's the first in my career and the first in the two officers' career and will probably remain the only one of its kind."

VIDEO: Baby born on freezing street found alive after being pronounced dead

Drummond said the 20-year-old pregnant mother had been trying to reach Humber River Hospital's Finch Avenue site, but ended up giving birth near the hospital.

"She wasn't feeling well and was walking with her mother to the hospital, but didn't make it," Drummond said. "She went into labor on a field off the sidewalk."

The city had issued an extreme cold alert on Sunday, with temperatures dropping below 5 F overnight.

Drummond said the mother called 911 and paramedics responded on the site, taking the mother and the baby to the hospital in an ambulance.

According to a statement from Humber River Hospital, staff engaged in "extensive resuscitation efforts," including in the ambulance.

"At some point the baby was declared dead by the hospital," Drummond said. Police alerted the coroner's office, which asked that officers stand guard by the baby's body until the coroner arrived to carry out an investigation.

"The two officers were alone in the room with the child when they noticed some movement under the sheet," Drummond said. "They took a closer look and felt for a pulse. They found one."

The officers immediately alerted medical staff who confirmed that the baby was, in fact, alive.

Drummond said that although the officers had not performed any kind of life-saving measures it was important that they had been present when the baby moved.

"The officers are both very pleased that the tragic event developed into something extraordinary," she said, "They are both very happy."

Although the officers credited with saving the baby girl's life have declined to speak publicly about it, the Toronto Police Department tweeted the good news on its official Twitter account.

"Today two officers experienced something most likely never to happen again in their careers. Truly astonished/pleased baby is doing well ~wd," Drummond tweeted.

Drummond said that the baby had been transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children, where she was in stable condition.

According to a media release by the Humber River Hospital, it is now reviewing all aspects of care involved in the case of the baby — including resuscitation efforts by hospital physicians and staff.

The hospital has not yet responded to a request for comment from MSN News.

Humber River is one of Canada's largest regional acute-care hospitals, with 549 beds, 700 physicians and a staff of 3,000 in the northwest greater Toronto area.

According to Jamie Hutchison, research director for critical care medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children, the newborn most likely had hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors in cold weather can get hypothermia. Babies and old people are especially at risk.

Hutchison, who is not involved in the newborn's care but studies hypothermia therapies, told cbc.ca that hypothermia often mimics death.

Hypothermia can slow down children's metabolism and brain activity, according to Hutchison. "They're not dead, but they appear that way," he said.

The phenomenon has given rise to a saying in medical practice: "A patient isn't declared dead until they're warm and dead," according to cbc.ca.

"That's what the mantra is now — you don't give up until the patient's warm and declared dead," Gary Sieck, a hypothermia expert at the Mayo Clinic, told cbc.ca.

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