CNN's Sanjay Gupta clarifies reporting following Nepal earthquake

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta stressed Wednesday that he did perform brain surgery on a young child following an earthquake in Nepal in April -- though he acknowledged he may have misidentified the patient.

The girl was reportedly 14, not a different 8-year old. "We are trying to independently verify exactly which child it was," Gupta said on CNN's "New Day."

The clarification came after a report challenged Gupta's version of events. The website Global Press Journal reported that the 8-year-old identified by CNN "never underwent surgery of any kind."

Some of the information Global Press Journal initially gathered was wrong -- namely that Gupta had not participated in surgery at all.

CNN said in a statement that Gupta has our "full and unequivocal support."

"As we reported, he assisted the surgeons at Bir Hospital by performing a craniotomy on a young victim," the network said. "Some reporting has suggested it was not the young girl we, at the time of our own reporting in the midst of the crisis, believed her to be. We will try to verify that."

"Regardless," CNN said, "Sanjay spent a week in Nepal, helped save a young life in the operating room, and we couldn't be prouder of him."

Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon as well as a medical correspondent. His medical assistance, particularly in disaster zones, is sometimes shown on CNN newscasts, but usually is not.

In this case, CNN had provided video to Global Press Journal more than a week ago that showed Gupta's role in the surgery, contradicting the initial claim that he hadn't helped at all.

"He was, if anything, relatively modest on the air in characterizing his own role. He simply appears to have been fundamentally wrong about the identity of his patient," wrote NPR's David Folkenflik, who was informed of the journal's reporting ahead of time.

CNN's original story seems to have gotten it right, but was revised later in the day.

Gupta told NPR that the name swap was intended to be a correction: "I didn't think the story was right. I had every reason to believe based on the [CAT] scans, based on what the doctors were telling me, based on the story they had told me, that the patient we had just operated on was an 8-year-old girl."

The change to the CNN story was initially noted, but was later removed. Now the story does have an editor's note, which says in part, "Questions have arisen about the identity of the girl."

Gupta said on CNN's "New Day" that he was assisting and reporting in the midst of a "massive triage area" after the quake.

He depicted the scene this way: "We're talking to doctors. There's sometimes a little bit of a language barrier as well. I'm told there are six patients, all of them children, that are needing operations on their brain. We're looking at their scans. I'm being shown their scans."

Gupta also emphasized the need for transparency now that his reporting has been questioned. "We want to get these things 100% right," he said. "It's important, obviously, to the viewers. It's important to the families, you know, who are there undergoing this, suffering through the aftermath of the earthquake."


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