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A mother’s nightmare

Kov Srey Leak, 18, says her newborn baby was stolen from her by a woman disguised as a nurse at Phnom Penh Municipal Referral Hospital in Meanchey district yesterday.
Kov Srey Leak, 18, says her newborn baby was stolen from her by a woman disguised as a nurse at Phnom Penh Municipal Referral Hospital in Meanchey district yesterday. KIM SAROM

A mother’s nightmare

A young mother took to the radio airwaves yesterday seeking the public’s help in finding the newborn child she says was abducted on Monday by a woman disguised as a nurse at a hospital in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.

Kov Srey Leak, 18, and her husband Chhet Pov, 21, both residents of Chbar Ampov II commune, on Sunday arrived at Meanchey Referral Hospital, where Srey Leak gave birth to a baby boy the next day.

“I am sorry for my dear baby boy. I haven’t even seen his face, and I have little hope of finding him,” she told the Post yesterday, adding that a name had yet to be chosen for the newborn.

Un Sophal, police chief of Chbar Ampov I commune, said his officers were investigating the case but had few leads due to the hospital’s failure to track those entering the facility.

“We have searched for the baby since last night, but there is no information,” he said. “We continue to search for it, but this is the [result of the] carelessness of the staff within the health centre, who could not control the people who visit patients.”

At about 4pm on Monday, a woman Srey Leak estimated to be between 35 and 40 years old, entered the young mother’s hospital room wearing a dark uniform and offered her brother 20,000 riel (about $5) to purchase the newborn a set of gloves and socks.

After the new mother’s brother left to purchase the items, Srey Leak gave the woman permission to bathe the newborn, assuming the woman was a nurse employed at the hospital.

Om Sokha, a director at Meanchey hospital, did not deny the story but expressed surprise that Srey Leak would allow the baby to be bathed, as he was born underweight.

“The missing baby was born less than a day ago, weighing only two or three kilograms, so the nurses did not allow his parents to inoculate or bathe the baby,” Sokha said.

Hospital officials confirmed that police are investigating.

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