| The abandoned infant found on Prem Chand Boral Street, now in Lady Dufferin Hospital. Picture by Aranya Sen
When Rakesh Kumar Jha, a cart-puller, retraced five steps to take a second look at a bundle of newspapers and rags that seemed to be “moving a little”, he was, in fact, taking the first steps towards giving a two-day-old boy his second birth.
The baby, taken to Lady Dufferin Hospital, was “somewhat under-weight and under-nourished”. But doctors were confident that he would pull through — all thanks to the cart-puller.
Jha was walking along Prem Chand Boral Street, in Bowbazar, on his way to work when he noticed a bundle of rags and old newspapers. He had crossed it, when “something” made him take a second look. “It was, probably, the slightest hint of movement,” he recounted.
Expecting to find a “puppy or a kitten”, Jha started removing the rags and newspapers. And then he saw what looked like the top of a baby’s head.
“I could not believe my eyes… It was not even crying, just whimpering softly.” Jha let out a yell, attracting the attention of passers-by. Soon, a crowd gathered. Among them was Sabita Sau, a local resident, who immediately said she wanted to adopt the baby. Better sense, however, prevailed and the others took the boy to a local doctor, who advised that they first inform the police. The local Muchipara thana was called and officers arrived in a few minutes.
The local general physician advised that the baby be taken to Lady Dufferin Hospital. The condition of the baby prompted the hospital authorities to admit him in a ward.
Doctors attending to him later said the child was out of immediate danger. “He is only a trifle under-weight and somewhat under-nourished,” a doctor on duty said, explaining that it was only to be expected, as he appeared to have been abandoned soon after birth.
“The local police station has received numerous calls,” said deputy commissioner (central) Zulfiquar Hasan. “Most of the callers want to adopt the abandoned infant.”
And Sabita Sau, despite being the first to express that desire, will have to wait some time longer, officials said.
Adoption laws have become very stringent and a lot of factors will be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding on the lucky parent, they added.
Rubel Sheikh is a baby boy, all of six months. And he gave ‘birth’ to a child in the paediatric surgery ward of Nil Ratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital on Monday. In medical terms, Rubel is a victim of one of the “rarest-of-rare” diseases, the foetus-in-foeto.
Doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital operated on Rubel for a baby with “some hair on its head, two legs (one of them almost fully formed) and a hand”. Rubel was first admitted to a hospital at Sagardighi, in Murshidabad district, after his stomach kept growing, despite his total body weight being a normal 6.5 kg.
The district hospital referred the case to Calcutta after a preliminary diagnosis hinted at the boy’s “rare condition”. Rubel was admitted to NRS Medical College and Hospital in the first week of August.
A team of surgeons, including the head of the department of paediatric surgery, Pradip Kumar Mukherjee, and Hiralal Konar, kept Rubel under observation as a series of tests were conducted to ascertain whether the boy could take the strain of a major surgery.
NRS Medical College and Hospital deputy superintendent Dilip Kumar Jha said the hour-long surgery was conducted on Monday morning.
“The surgery was successful but Rubel is still under observation,” he added, explaining that terms like “out of danger” did not apply to someone so young, who had been forced to undergo such an operation.
“The boy is, of course, still in pain and crying constantly, but his condition, as of now, is not something we are really worried about,” said Jha.
The stillborn baby taken out of Rubel’s stomach weighed about 1.5 kg, doctors said. “On dissection, the foetus was found to have some hair on its head, a hand and a leg almost completely formed and another leg that had begun taking shape,” said Jha.
Rubel’s parents, Ashiqul Sheikh and Mohsina Bibi, have come down from Murshidabad to be by his side.
But it will be quite a while before the boy can be released from the hospital ward, say doctors, given his “delicate condition and tender age”.
Jha summed up the curious case: “Rubel’s condition was most certainly an aberration and can qualify as one of the rarest-of-rare diseases.”