A baby girl delivered after her mother was fatally wounded in a shooting in Wheaton yesterday was pronounced dead by medical personnel, but was later seen showing signs of life and found to have a pulse and heartbeat, officials at Suburban Hospital said last night.
The child's condition was described as critical and her prognosis grave late last night. A hospital spokesman said she may have suffered brain damage.
The infant's mother, Maria Elizabeth Rodriguez, 20, was shot twice in the head at close range at her home in the 3500 block of Floral Street in Wheaton, Montgomery County police said. Rodriguez's uncle, Oscar Valis, who had been babysitting with the child, heard the shots, found Rodriguez slumped on a living room couch and called police, authorities said.
Rodriguez had only a slight heartbeat when she arrived at Suburban about 3 p.m., hospital spokesman John Davidson said, and the baby was delivered by Caesarean section within minutes. Rodriguez, who was separated from her husband, died a short time later.
While physicians tried unsuccessfully to revive Rodriguez, a team expert in treatment of newborns was flown in by helicopter from Children's Hospital in the District and tried to revive the baby. At 3:45 p.m., the neonatal team "deemed the baby was not viable" and pronounced her dead, Davidson said. The child was then removed from life support machines and team members returned to Children's Hospital, he said.
The infant was still exhibiting "occasional shallow attempts to breathe" that are normal after life support is removed and usually cease after a short time, Davidson said. The baby showed no neurological responses at this time, he said.
However, the attempts at breathing continued, and between 4 and 6 p.m., medical personnel noticed that the infant's heartbeat picked up, Davidson said.
Consultations began between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. between doctors at Suburban and Children's, Davidson said, and doctors decided to give the infant oxygen. "Her breathing became more regular and the heart rate went up," Davidson said. The infant "began showing signs of improvement."
Children's neonatal unit returned to Suburban around 10 p.m. and transferred the infant to the District facility late last night.
Davidson said it was "impossible to tell" whether the child had suffered brain damage and "we've got to wait to see if she survives the night."
Police said the shooting was under investigation. No suspect had been taken into custody.