After surviving an attempted burial last week, a newborn with a cleft lip and palate was released from hospital in Svay Rieng town and taken home by her mother yesterday.
Nicknamed “Lucky Wednesday” by doctors after her miraculous survival last week, the baby, who was legally named Kong Sokthida over the weekend, barely made it through her first hours of life. She was rescued on Wednesday from beneath a pile of dirt at the town’s Prey Chhlak pagoda, where her father, ashamed of his firstborn’s malformed lip, had allegedly left her to die.
She was saved when boys from the pagoda heard her muffled cries.
Despite the horrific accusation against her husband – 29-year-old Kong Sokthy – the baby’s mother yesterday pleaded with police to free him from jail, where he is being held and facing charges of aggravated attempted murder.
“I’m not angry with him, because he may have been in a very bad mood to see the baby like that,” Heng Dany, 29, said. “I want him to be reunited with me and our family. He loves me and our family.”
Dany claimed she did not initially know her baby was born with a cleft palate; she hadn’t had a chance to see her daughter before her husband left the delivery room with their child.
Even after the baby was rushed to hospital after being rescued, Dany was still not able to see her for two days, as hospital staff feared the mother might also harm her baby.
“I was asking and crying and begging to see my baby, but the doctor did not trust me, even though I knew nothing about what my husband had done.”
Dany was reunited with her daughter on Friday. On Saturday, NGO Operation Smile visited them, bringing baby clothes and demonstrating special ways to nurse the infant, who has trouble breastfeeding.
“The baby is doing much better now,” said Dr Mok Theavy, Operation Smile’s medical director. He added that Dany was not aware that her baby could have a free and relatively simple corrective surgery.
Operation Smile plans to operate on her cleft lip in July and on her palate when she is at least nine months old.