Sunday 22 April 2018

Air-born miracle baby has trash landing in bin bag

Mother abandoned infant on flight from Bahrain to Manila

Jim Gomez in Manila

THERE are many strange ways of coming into the world but the arrival of one tiny baby boy on this earth constituted something of a miracle.

For as the rubbish was carried from a newly landed Gulf Air jet at Manila's airport, a security officer on the tarmac spied something moving in one of the bags.

The jet had flown in from Bahrain, and it was with mixed feelings of curiosity and apprehension that the guard opened it. Gingerly sifting through the assorted rubbish he found the one thing he could never have imagined: a newborn baby wrapped with tissue paper and covered in blood.

"The baby was left for dead. It was already bluish in colour," airport press officer Connie Bungag said last night. "He could have died in a matter of minutes if he was not found."

The newborn boy was dumped in an aircraft lavatory bin and abandoned by his mother on a flight to the Philippines.

He was believed to have been born on the flight from Bahrain to Manila.

The infant -- still attached to the placenta -- was taken to an airport clinic, where doctors and nurses cleaned him, gave him a checkup, wrapped him in cloth and mittens and warmed him under a light bulb, airport doctor Maria Teresa Agores said.

The boy, who weighed six pounds and nine ounces, was surprisingly well according to doctors, despite his turbulent arrival.

"He was healthy, his vital signs were OK," nurse Kate Calvo said.

Nurses who tended to the baby said he was healthy and had been turned over to social welfare officers assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

In Dubai, Gulf Air said it had launched an internal inquiry into the incident.

"Our main priority is the welfare of the mother and baby," the airline said in an emailed response to questions. "We are currently working with the local authorities in the Philippines to help them locate his mother as soon as possible."

Criminal

Police have said that the woman could be charged with a criminal offence if she is found, while radio stations in Manila have been swamped with offers to adopt the boy.

The story evoked pity and outrage around the world as Philippine authorities worked yesterday to identify the mother. Airport officials collected money to buy the baby clothes and milk, and as he fed from a bottle, the baby cried softly, Ms Calvo said.

Airport workers also gave him another basic need -- a name. They called him George Francis after Gulf Air's code name GF.

Airport police said they were trying to locate one female passenger whose seat near the plane's toilet was stained with blood. Officials got her name from the plane's manifest and it appeared to be Filipino.

Gulf Air said it had launched an internal inquiry into the incident. The airline provides a service throughout the Middle East region.

Gulf Air spokeswoman Katherine Kaczynska said that no one on the plane had reported anything unusual during the flight.

Doctors who attended to the baby said he looked Filipino, fuelling speculation in the local media that the boy's mother could be a domestic worker in the Middle East. About one in 10 Filipinos works abroad, many as maids and labourers in the Middle East, to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home.

"If she's a migrant worker, this speaks of the ordeal our overseas workers go through," social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman said.

But Manila Airport manager Jose Angel Honrado said it was too early to draw conclusions since investigators had not yet identified the mother.

Ms Soliman said the baby would be turned over to the mother's relatives -- if they could be found -- or put up for adoption.

The government would make sure the baby would get "the very best care" wherever he ended up, she said.

Irish Independent

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