10/07/2015 9:33 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

CNN's Sanjay Gupta Under Scrutiny For Misidentifying Nepal Earthquake Patient

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Dr, Sanjay Gupta of CNN poses at the CNN Worldwide All-Star Party, on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK -- American TV network CNN's Indian-origin medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta is under scrutiny after it emerged that a child he had operated upon during the earthquake in Nepal had been wrongly identified by him, even as the network rallied behind him.

Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon, clarified yesterday that he did perform brain surgery on a 14-year-old girl following the earthquake in Nepal in April but acknowledged he may have misidentified the patient as being eight-year-old, according to a post on the CNN website.

"We are trying to independently verify exactly which child it was," Gupta said on CNN's "New Day".

The clarification came after the website Global Press Journal reported that the 8-year-old identified by CNN "never underwent surgery of any kind."

Gupta had travelled to Nepal in the days following the earthquake to cover the devastating natural calamity and had operated on a girl on April 27 at Kathmandu's Bir Hospital.

The Global Press Journal reported that according to the girl's family and doctors, Salina Dahal was never operated on.

Instead, Gupta had operated on 14-year-old Sandhya Chalise.

CNN rallied behind Gupta, saying he had the network's support and that it was proud of his work.

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

"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."

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

Gupta's medical assistance, particularly in disaster zones, is sometimes shown on the network's newscasts.

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 characterising his own role. He simply appears to have been fundamentally wrong about the identity of his patient," said NPR's David Folkenflik, who was informed of the journal's reporting ahead of time.

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