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'He's the first baby I have pulled out alive'

By unknown | May 31, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mary Papayya

The lead rescuer involved in Tuesday's dramatic two-hour operation to save a newborn baby from a pit latrine near Pietermaritzburg said it was "a miracle" the child was still alive.

The baby has been nicknamed "Quarter Jack" after his saviour, police Inspector Jack Haskins.

The daring policeman said he had seen similar cases in the past 13 years, and they had all ended fatally.

The infant survived an icy-cold Monday night in the waste pit after his mother allegedly threw him into the 2m deep toilet pit shortly after he was born.

When rescued, he was covered in human waste, maggots and ants. His umbilical cord was still intact.

By noon yesterday he was in a stable condition and was breathing on his own in the Grey's Hospital nursery.

Haskins said finding the baby alive made up for the past deaths.

"We have had cases where mothers suffering from post-natal depression after giving birth had thrown infants down the toilet," he said.

"In some cases, the women go into labour while on the toilet and the baby falls in. Every single infant had died, and this was the first one I pulled out alive. It makes up for all the past losses. It gives me a sense of reward."

Haskins' son, who is a trainee paramedic, is nicknamed Half Jack and that is why the infant has been called Quarter Jack.

Haskins told Sowetan that the whole time he and the other rescue workers were trying to save the baby, he kept praying the child would survive.

"It is a miracle how he survived," said Haskins.

"He escaped suffocation and serious injury from the concrete lining of the pit. The operation was tricky and the concrete could have caved in on him. It was getting hot and methane gas was also building up at the bottom of the pit. Quarter Jack could easily have died. We heard his little cries."

Rescuers dug a hole adjacent to the existing "long-drop" and then a tunnel to reach the trapped baby.

By lunch time yesterday, Quarter Jack was in a stable condition. He received a visit from his rescuer "dad", who had been busy at various accident scenes in the province.

Health officials are confident the baby will survive.

Police said the child's mother had been arrested and would appear in court soon on a charge of attempted murder.


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