Courts & Crime

Woman thought she had miscarriage, then baby breathed

Kansas City Police Officer Anna Occhipinto had just arrived at a medical call early Monday when a woman handed her a bloody towel.

"My daughter had a miscarriage," the woman said. "Here's the baby."

Weighing less than 3 pounds and encased in a thin membrane, the baby appeared to have been stillborn.Then the towel moved.

A tiny foot pushed against Occhipinto's hand. Her eyes widened.

"We need to remove that sac so the baby can breathe!" exclaimed her partner, Officer Steven Downing, who summoned firefighters just arriving at the house in the 700 block of Belmont Avenue.

Downing fumbled for his knife.

"No," a firefighter said. "I've got something sterile."

The firefighter retrieved a small pair of scissors and carefully cut the sac from around the baby's face. Fluid and blood oozed from the baby's nose as he struggled for air.

They rushed the baby outside to an arriving ambulance. As they put the baby on the gurney, Downing asked the rescue workers to quickly suction its nose and mouth.

"He's still alive," Downing said. "He's trying to breathe!"

The rescue workers suctioned the baby and clamped the umbilical cord. The boy inhaled and started crying and flailing.

"It was so good to hear," Downing recalled later Monday.

The baby's pale gray color evolved to a bright pink before the ambulance pulled away for the hospital just before 1 a.m.

A second ambulance took the mother to another hospital.

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