The newborn found abandoned on a footpath by a morning walker in Jadavpur on Monday recuperates in the neo-natal ICU of a hospital off the Bypass on Tuesday afternoon. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Curled up on a neo-natal warmer in his blue comforter, he was a picture of somnolence on Tuesday afternoon. And oh-so-cute.
Just the morning before, a crow had been trying to nibble at him as he lay on a footpath, inside a plastic bag with his crudely cut umbilical cord still hanging.
Satyajit Chakraborty, 48, was on his usual morning walk through Sukanta Setu in Jadavpur around 5.30am when he spotted the pale-yellow packet that had the crow excited. He would have passed it by as a piece of carelessly thrown garbage had he not heard what resembled a child’s cry.
Chakraborty stopped in his tracks and turned a few steps back in the direction of a lamp post under which the packet was lying. He shooed the crow away and looked inside the packet to find a crying newborn covered in mud and blood.
The Garfa resident, who had barely covered half the 2km he usually walks from home every morning, panicked but recovered his composure quickly to make some calls.
“I was carrying enough money to admit the baby to a good hospital but I needed some assistance. So I called two women who I know stay in a nearby slum and another acquaintance of mine,” recounted Chakraborty, a supplier of construction materials.
The women advised him to move the baby to a state-run hospital in the vicinity, fearing the police would otherwise harass them. “But I wasn’t sure whether a government hospital would have the facilities to save the baby. He seemed to be in a critical condition,” Chakraborty said.
He took the newborn to AMRI Mukundapur. “The baby was cold when they brought him here. Lack of oxygen supply to the brain was the immediate threat,” said Srabani Samanta, consultant neonatologist at AMRI Mukundapur.
Doctors at the hospital estimated that the baby, weighing around 2kg, had been born premature at 32 weeks. Worse, it had probably been lying unattended for several hours in the open, triggering hypothermia, a condition in which the body’s core temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism.
The newborn’s body temperature had been 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit when brought in. His blood sugar was also lower than normal, sources said.
By Tuesday afternoon, he was doing better with oxygen support and a night’s stay in the controlled temperature of a neo-natal warmer. “He is on antibiotics to prevent infections and is able to have oral nutrition after a day of intravenous feed,” a doctor said.
Chakraborty, who had feared the newborn wouldn’t survive the night, visited the hospital on Tuesday to enquire about his condition.
“I did my duty as a citizen. It didn’t matter to me whose baby was lying on that footpath. Saving a life was the priority,” he said.
While Chakraborty had been willing to pay for the treatment, AMRI Mukundapur didn’t charge anything to admit the newborn.
Officials of the women, child development and social welfare department said the police would approach a magistrate to send the baby to a government-run home after he is discharged from hospital.
“The baby’s condition is now stable. Once he recovers completely, we will hand him over to the police,” Rupak Barua, group CEO of AMRI Hospitals, said.
The baby could be put up for adoption later.
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