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Baby on footpath out of hospital

- Two-month wait for Jishu before adoption option

Jishu, the underweight newborn abandoned on a footpath in Jadavpur and rescued by a morning walker, was released from a private hospital on Wednesday after 16 days of medical care helped him gain 300 grams.

Two representatives of a voluntary organisation nominated by the government’s child welfare committee took custody of the boy, still wrapped in his blue comforter with a pink cap covering his tiny head.

“He is being taken to a government-authorised home but we are not allowed to say which one,” an officer at Survey Park police station said.

Several Calcutta couples had visited or called AMRI Mukundapur, off the Bypass, after reading about Jishu in Metro on April 23, two days after he was found under a lamppost on the footpath of Sukanta Setu.

Satyajit Chakraborty, a trader from Garfa, was on his usual morning walk when he heard what resembled a baby’s cry and turned around to find a crow trying to nibble at Jishu. He was wrapped in a plastic packet, covered in mud and blood.

Satyajit, 48, decided to admit the newborn to a private hospital despite being advised against it by acquaintances who thought the police would ask questions. “The baby was cold and barely breathing when he was brought in. He weighed around 2kg and seemed to have been born premature at 32 weeks,” a doctor at AMRI Mukundapur recounted.

On Wednesday, Jishu — christened so by the hospital staff because he was found on Easter Monday — looked healthier at 2.3kg and ready to start life in a new home.

He now cries for food every two to three hours,” neonatologist Srabani Samanta said. “He had to be woken up for a feed in the first few days. Over the past week, he has been waking up on his own and crying, which is a sign of a baby feeling hungry.”

Sudeshna Lahiri, medical superintendent of the hospital, said Jishu was fit enough to leave hospital but would still need special care.

The newborn must get a medical check-up at regular intervals until his weight and other parameters are that of a normal baby of his age, according to his doctors. A baby born at full term typically weighs above 3kg.

In the 16 days that he spent at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, Jishu got a second name, Anamitro, and was by far the newborn with the maximum number of visitors.

“Other children have parents and relatives. But he had the maximum visitors as all members of the nursing staff and the doctors would check on him every day,” said Chandralekha Pyne, sister-in-charge of the neonatal intensive care unit.

Most of the nurses would head for the warmer before starting the day’s shift or after completing it and cradle Jishu in their arms. “We formed a special bond with him,” said Soma Roy, assistant nursing superintendent of the hospital.

Satyajit was a daily visitor, sometimes accompanied by his family members. On Wednesday, he brought new clothes for Jishu before an ambulance took him away. “He has become a part of my family. I have the phone numbers of the two women who took custody of him today. Once it is finalised which home he will be taken to, I will visit him there too,” Satyajit said.

To adopt a child, a couple or an individual has to register with the Central Adoption Resource Authority.

The rules stipulate that an abandoned child be first shifted to a government-registered welfare centre, which must wait two months for the child’s biological parents to claim custody. The centre also needs to publish an advertisement and coordinate with the police to find the parents within that time.

After the completion of the two-month waiting period, the centre is required to get a court’s permission to hand over the child to a registered adoption agency.

Volunteers from the agency will visit the houses of interested couples shortlisted through counselling. Couples are required to submit income-tax returns for three years and also a certificate from a doctor declaring them fit to raise a child.