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Baby Saver works again

A third newborn benefited from the Helderberg Baby Saver last weekend when the mother opted to discard her unwanted baby safely.

An estimated 12-hour-old baby girl was given a chance at life on Saturday 21 April.

Sandy Immelman, founder of the Helderberg Baby Saver, recalled being at home on her computer when she received the call. Immelman preferred not to mention the time the alarm was triggered to safeguard the identity of the mother.

Immelman further recalled the drive down to the Saver which is located at the Choices Centre in Schapenberg Road, Somerset West, as “nerve-wracking” out of fear of the unknown.

“As always, it is nerve-wracking driving down to the Saver, not knowing what you’ll find. It was a huge relief to find the little girl was healthy and strong,” explained Immelman.

The Baby Saver is a special safe built into the wall at the crisis pregnancy centre where mothers can place their unwanted baby.

When a baby is placed in the safe, an alarm is triggered and an appointed respondent collects the baby.

The idea for the Baby Saver was initiated four years ago after two incidents of babies found abandoned in Somerset West. Baby Ayabonga was the first to benefit from the Baby Saver since its inception. Baby Amber was one of the babies to inspire the facility. She was found by a homeless man and his dog next to the river in Andries Pretorius Street on 8 February 2014.

In Ayabonga’s case, the alarm was triggered at 15:00 on Tuesday 6 October 2015 when his mother, owing to her circumstances, placed the healthy one-month-old baby boy in the Baby Saver. The now almost three-year-old finds himself the apple of the eye of a delighted adoptive mother and father who, along with two enthusiastic older sisters, have opened their hearts and home to him.

A newborn baby boy was the second to benefit from the Baby Saver initiative. The baby was placed in the Saver on Friday 3 November last year, at an estimated day old.

In light of the most recent incident and increasing baby dumpings, Immelman described being grateful when a baby comes in via the Helderberg Baby Saver. She explained that when this happens it is believed the message that there is a safer option to dumping a baby in a dustbin has been spread and the right person was aware of this.

Immelman further said that the incident also serves as hope. “. . . hope that we are doing the right thing by providing a safety net. However, we constantly wish for our society to protect and educate girls and women to the point that this last-ditch option is no longer necessary. In this light, we encourage women to go to their nearest clinic or to Choices and find out about their options, learn about contraception and to get help before giving birth and feeling so desperate that abandonment seems the only option left,” Immelman implored.

According to Sithembiso Magubane, spokesperson for Helderberg Hospital, the abandoned baby girl, estimated to be 12 hours old, was brought to the hospital’s casualty ward at 10:30 on Saturday morning.

“There were no visible injuries to the baby. However, the umbilical cord was still attached,” said Magubane.

He added that the baby was discharged from the hospital and enjoys a place of safety which was arranged by social services.

Debbie Wybrow, founder and director of Wandisa Adoption Agency, described being able to assist the “beautiful” newborn baby girl by working with the representatives of the Baby Saver and staff of Helderberg Hospital as a privilege. Wybrow said that the baby referred to as Mbali – which means flower – is doing exceptionally well.

“Because we know how important every one of a child’s first 1 000 days are, we are delighted she is now in temporary safe care as part of a nurturing family environment,” said Wybrow.

“The children’s court inquiry has commenced. The processes take time but are critical to protect the child, and our Wandisa social workers will explore all options to find the best possible way forward for her.

“It is rewarding beyond measure to see children grow into healthy and happy young adults – and we cannot wait to see Little Mbali do likewise!”

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