Last month, Salman celebrated his first birthday on a hospital bed. Exactly a year ago, on February 24, he was brought to the GB Pant Children Hospital in a critical condition after he was found abandoned at the stairs of a local shrine in the old city.
Since then, the nutrition ward located on the fourth storey of the hospital has been home to this baby boy as no one has so far come forward to adopt him. In the ward, six-month-old Burhan keeps him company. Burhan too was abandoned at the hospital by unknown people.
Doctors at the hospital admit that both these boys suffer from severe medical complications. However, they say the recovery made by Salman, who had already undergone two surgeries, is encouraging. For over 12 months, the doctors and nurses at the Valley’s only children hospital have been looking after these babies with a hope that somebody would eventually come forward to adopt these two boys. It is proving to be a nightmare, however, as nobody appear to be keen on looking after them given their medical history. Even the Non-Governmental Organizations and Jammu-Kashmir Social Welfare department have shown little interest towards facilitating the adoption of these boys. In J&K alone, scores of government and locally-funded NGO’s and organizations work for the welfare of orphans.
Watch What Else Is making News
“For these two babies, the hospital staff, especially doctors and nurses are acting as their parents. Salman has even stared recognizing the staff members who are taking care of him inside the ward,’’ says Dr Tabassum, senior Resident Medical Officer.
“How long the hospital staff will do like this. Our job is to treat patients not to look after them. Our staff who are mostly unmarried are trying their best to provide motherly care to these boys, but still we all feel for them.’’ she said. While Salman spends most of his day in the room attached to the ward meant for the nursing staff, Burhan lies on bed number 11 inside the ward as the hospital and its staff keep an eye on his movements and feeding hours.
“Salman has undergone two surgeries and both were successful. He is doing well and covering all the milestones. We are hopeful the boy will grow as a normal child. He only needs adoption and family,’’ says Dr Tabassum.
The doctors say that those who visit the hospital looking to adopt the boys never return after learning about their medical complications. “Some people want a written guarantee from us that these boys will have no medical problem in future. How can we predict about the future of any child. Even a normal baby can develop medical complications.” And for Burhan, she says that he will never grow like a normal baby. “Burhan has problems and whosoever will be adopting him have to bear that in mind.”
Shazia, the head nurse at the hospital, has taken a special liking for these babies, especially Salman who now recognizes her. “I have seen Salman from day one; whenever he smiles at me, it reminds me about his future. Unfortunately, with every passing day he will start recognizing people and will also have questions about his parents in the coming years. At times, I want to cry as there is no family or intuition who will give these boys a home-like atmosphere,” she says. “Instead of hospital these boys must have been in a home as they require family environment, unfortunately, neither in our country or state anybody has come forward to adopt them.’’
Dr Rehena, a senior doctor at the hospital, told The Indian Express that in the absence of a childcare home or any government organization, they have no option but to keep these boys inside the hospital. “We have no option but to keep them here. In past 12 months, Salman has never gone out from the hospital only for surgeries and whenever we take him out for consultations in the other hospital; he curiously starts looking towards window, and shouts towards people as if he is urging people to adopt him.’’
So far the hospital is bearing the expenses of these two children with little aid from the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) scheme. However, after 24 February, Salman can’t be eligible for that scheme. “We are 1.25 crore population in the state and around 125 crores in country, and these boys are looking towards them for adoption or care,” says Dr Rehana. “Last year, a baby girl with down syndrome was adopted by a single mother from Pune, and it took her three months to persuade the Chief Judicial Magistrate to give custody of the girl, as the state has tough adoption laws, but she was brave lady who fought for the custody, the lady keeps on sending us the pictures of the girl. Hopefully, someone in the country with a human heart will come to the rescue of the children.”
Last year, the hospital authorities wrote to the Social Welfare department requesting them to take up the adoption of these two boys. The department refused citing issues lack of infrastructure. Medical Superintendent GP Pant hospital, Dr Kewal Kishan said that hospital has no option but to keep these boys in the wards. “We can’t throw them out. We will wait till some people or family with human heart approaches to us. These boys are in need of a family.”