Tearful tales of babies left at ‘hatches’

Safe haven: A member from the Johor Baru OrphanCare centre in Jalan Bakar Batu standing at a baby hatch. The other two hatches are located in Petaling Jaya and Sungai Petani.

JOHOR BARU: A total of 45 babies were rescued through OrphanCare Foundation facilities nationwide between March and December last year during the movement control order.

Sadly, some of them had been dead several hours before being sent to the so-called “baby hatch”.

Its Johor Baru branch supervisor Nurul Norhuda Mohd Yusof, who shared poignant stories about babies found throughout the years, said: “Once, we got a baby kept in a paper bag with a note saying that she (birth mother) was unable to give the baby a proper funeral.

“A post-mortem later revealed that the baby had been dead for about 24 hours.

“There was also another case in which the baby left in the hatch was dripping with blood.

“The infant was already dead then, ” she said, adding that such cases would be handed over to the police.

Nurul Norhuda added that OrphanCare Foundation provided refuge for women who are at least seven months’ pregnant, adding that the youngest mother they helped was a 14-year-old girl.

“We will assist them so they can go through their pregnancy safely.

“After the baby is born, the mother and her family can decide whether they want to raise the child or give it up for adoption, ” she said.

Nurul Norhuda said that OrphanCare Foundation had rescued 437 babies from 2012 until last year.

Out of that, 267 of them were adopted while 12 babies were referred to the Welfare Department, she said.

The remaining 158 infants were taken by their mothers, who had sought shelter at the baby hatch centre during their pregnancy and eventually went home with the baby.

Nurul Norhuda said most of the 437 babies came from “walk-in cases” except for 73 newborns who were left in the baby hatch.

There are three baby hatches in Peninsular Malaysia, located in Petaling Jaya, Johor Baru and Sungai Petani.

She said the facility was open 24 hours.

The baby hatch is equipped with a sensor that can detect when a baby is placed inside it.

“Once a baby is placed in the baby hatch, an alarm will ring so that the staff in the house are notified.

“It will also automatically turn on the air conditioner and lights in the baby hatch, ” she said adding that a majority of the babies were placed in the hatch at night or early in the morning.

Based on OrphanCare Foundation statistics, Nurul Norhuda said an average of 100 babies were abandoned every year in places such as trash bins.

“About 60% of these babies die. Often, those who survive would have severe impairments, ” she said.

Thus, she said the baby hatch aimed to protect the newborns and ensure that they could grow up in a healthy and loving environment.

She said she also hoped that people who place their babies in the baby hatch could provide basic details about their child such as the name they want the baby to have as well as the birth mother’s religion and MyKad to ease the birth registration of the child.

“Such information is only for matters related to the registration of the child. It will remain confidential.

“We have placed a note in the baby hatch about this but a majority of the people are afraid to give such details.

“However, they normally put a note telling us to take good care

f the child and apologising for abandoning the baby, ” she added.

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