Philippines' Latest Casualty: 3-Day-Old Girl

With no ventilators, Althea's parents used hand pump continuously to help her breathe
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2013 5:40 AM CST
Genia Mae Mustacia pumps oxygen into the lungs of her 3-day-old infant at a Catholic chapel in the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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(Newser) – Only days after devastated Tacloban celebrated the birth of a "miracle baby," Typhoon Haiyan has claimed its youngest victim: As the AP reports, tiny Althea Mustacia was born Nov. 13—five days after the typhoon tore through the Philippines—unable to breathe on her own because of a condition called newborn asphyxia. With power knocked out in the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, ventilators, incubators, and suction pumps weren't working. So Althea's parents used a handheld pump to push oxygen into their daughter's lungs, working around the clock from the moment she was born until the moment last night when her fragile heartbeat stopped.

An attending doctor said Althea's parents wrapped her body in a blanket and left in tears; she said insufficient prenatal care and not the storm likely caused the infant's health issues, but that a ventilator could have saved her. Althea was one of 24 babies in the hospital's neo-natal ward, which the AP notes had to be shifted from the ruined ground floor to a second-floor chapel. A diesel generator powers a lone lightbulb in the chapel. (Read more Tacloban stories.)

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