The funeral preparations for the newborn were complete. The graveyard was ready; bamboo sticks and mats were bought and even the burial fee was paid. The family was just waiting for her final bath.
But, perhaps miraculously, the baby girl moved just as the water touched her body.
The first child of Minhaz Uddin and Sharmin Akhter, both garment workers, the baby is now on life support at the Intensive Care Unit of Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital.
An hour before her funeral, she was declared a “stillborn” at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) yesterday.
Sharmin, 22, was shifted to DMCH from a clinic in Dhamrai early Sunday. She was seven months pregnant at the time. The attending doctor told her that he had felt the baby move.
“On Sunday around 7:00pm, the doctor said there was no movement of the baby and the baby was dead,” Shariful Islam, an uncle of the baby alleged adding that the baby was delivered yesterday morning around 8:00am and declared a “stillborn”.
The baby was then taken to Azimpur graveyard for burial around 9:10am. She had still not been named. For the registration of burial, Shariful named her Meem.
After completing the formalities, the baby was taken for the final bath at around 9:35am.
“The baby started moving soon after I poured water on her body to prepare her for burial,” Jesmin Akter, a female attendant at the graveyard, told The Daily Star.
She instantly wrapped the baby in a cloth and informed her family members. Afterwards, the baby was first taken to Azimpur Maternity Hospital and later shifted to Shishu Hospital.
“Another such incident happened earlier in 2015. That baby too was born at Dhaka Medical College Hospital,” said Hafizul Islam, in-charge of the graveyard.
That time, the newborn baby died a day after he was declared dead by doctors at DMCH.
Briefing reporters at the Shishu hospital premises, Abdul Aziz, director of the hospital, said that Meem's condition was not good, but it had improved compared to when she was brought to the hospital.
Asked why the baby was declared dead at DMCH, Aziz said, “As far as we [know], the baby was thought to be dead inside the womb as there was not any movement. Later, the doctor conducted a normal delivery and declared her a stillbirth.”
The director of the hospital assured that his staff will put their utmost efforts to save the baby.
“Her heartbeat was very low. When she was brought to the hospital, her heartbeat was 10 to 12, now it has risen to 35 to 40. But the normal heartbeat required is 100,” he said.
The doctor said she was having difficulty breathing and maintaining her body temperature.
“As the baby is premature, she weighs only one kilogram. She is also suffering from anemia. There was also bleeding from her navel. However, we managed to stop it after treating her”, he added.
Abu Tayab, deputy director of the hospital said, the baby's mother was suffering from anemia.
Lying on a bed at DMCH, Sharmin told reporters that she got married three years ago and had conceived for the first time. She first got admitted at a clinic in Dhamrai two days before shifting to DMCH early Sunday.
“After a checkup, the doctors at the clinic told me that my baby was doing well. I even sensed his movement,” she said, adding they moved to DMCH after she developed chest pain.
DMCH director Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin told reporters that Sharmin, who got admitted to the hospital while 27-week's pregnant, gave birth to a stillborn baby yesterday morning and expressed suspicion that the baby who “returned” to life was a different child.
“It needs to be investigated whether this is the baby that Sharmin gave birth to.”
“There will be an inquiry into the incident…..We will try to know in which circumstances what happened and why,” he said replying to a query regarding DNA tests.
“If something unintentional happened, if there is any failure, we will try to identify that.”
A four-member probe body was formed to investigate the incident.