ANGELINA BABY BATTLES FOR LIFE IN HOSPITAL

Published on: July 20, 2005
ANGELINA BABY BATTLES FOR LIFE IN HOSPITAL

By CLAIRE NEWBON

Angelina Jolie's newly adopted African daughter was caught in a dramatic life-and-death battle just hours after being brought to the U.S.

The star, who rescued tiny Zahara from AIDS-blighted Ethiopia, took the child straight to specialists to treat her for salmonella — a bacterial infection causing serious diarrhea and adverse reactions in children.

The six-month-old baby was hospitalized on July 9 and was significantly underweight at just nine lbs. Zahara was placed on intravenous drips to administer antibiotics and to overcome malnutrition and dehydration. She also underwent blood tests and was given fluids and baby formula.

Dr. Jane Aronson, who oversaw Zahara's treatment at New York's Presbyterian Weill Medical College, said: "Children living in orphanages in developing nations die quickly without proper medical interventions. That would have been Zahara's fate had she not been adopted by Angelina Jolie."

Angelina, 30, stayed at nearby Waldorf Towers and made frequent trips to Zahara's bedside. Staff said the actress had already formed a "close bond" with the baby when she was discharged on July 15.

Dr. Aronson said: "In spite of her illness, [Zahara] was very sweet, engaging and responsive. When she gained her strength she began to smile and coo. It was clear that the love and devotion of her mother along with the antibiotic, intravenous fluids and formula, helped her to recover."

Angelina flew to Ethiopia from England with lover Brad Pitt, 41, and son Maddox, three, on June 28, looking to adopt an African baby. Hours after landing she had met and named Zahara Marley Jolie.

Shortly after arriving in the U.S. from Africa, Pitt was also treated in hospital. He suffered a mild case of viral meningitis. Last week The National Enquirer tracked down the woman claiming to be Zahara's grandmother. Almaz Blfnhe, 45, from the squalid town of Awassa, said she had to give up the baby when her own daughter died shortly after childbirth.