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Toddler in coma almost buried; parents charged

  • Story Highlights
  • Bolivian parents were preparing to bury their 3-year- old girl
  • Neighbor noticed signs of life, takes girl to medical center
  • Mother and stepfather arrested, are being held on abuse charges
  • Girl in coma, with head injury, contusions over her body and facial burns
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LA PAZ, Bolivia (CNN) -- A 3-year-old Bolivian girl whose parents thought was dead and were preparing to bury remained in a coma but was improving Friday, while her mother and stepfather were being held on abuse charges, a hospital official said.

The girl is suffering from a head injury, contusions throughout her body and burns on her face, said Jose Carlos Camacho, director of Hospital Universitario Japones in Santa Cruz.

"She is improving," Camacho told CNN on Friday. "Yesterday she was able to take liquids orally. She is waking up but remains critical."

The girl's parents thought she was dead and held a six-hour wake Monday when a neighbor noticed she showed signs of life and took her to a medical center, the Santa Cruz, Bolivia, newspaper El Deber said on its Web site.

The girl's stepfather, Gumercindo Ali Mamani, 20, and mother, Lucia Chana, 22, appeared in court Tuesday and were ordered held on abuse charges, the newspaper said. Their 3-month-old son was placed in protective custody.

The severity of the girl's coma is rated about 14 or 15 on a 15-point scale, in which 15 is the best, Camacho said. A patient is usually placed on life-support machinery at 8 on the scale, said Camacho, who is also a surgeon.

The girl suffered a subdural hematoma, a traumatic injury in which blood pools between two protective layers of the brain, but did not require surgery, Camacho said. A subdural hematoma can result from a blow to the head or from shaking.

Doctors expect the girl to remain in intensive care for about another week before she can be moved to intermediate care.

According to El Deber, the stepfather asked for forgiveness but the mother only said that the girl was often restless.

CNN's Arthur Brice contributed to this report.

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