China: flushed down toilet, baby expected to recover

A newborn baby remains in critical condition in Beijing, following a successful emergency rescue in the Zhaoyang District of the Chinese capital. The baby’s mother had given birth while squatting over a public toilet but lost the baby when it was flushed away. The husband of Cai Qulin (36) was waiting outside the toilet and called for help when the mishap was discovered on April 6.

Rescue workers ripped out the toilet, which unlike Western toilets requires users to squat with their feet splayed over a large hole in the floor leading to sewer pipes. In their desperation to save the child, the rescuers cracked waste pipes and the floor to reach the hapless infant trapped below. The hole for the toilet measured approximately 10 inches across.

Firefighters who came to the scene were at first unable to find the baby but when they tore up the grey-colored tile floor, they were finally able to grasp the infant approximately 15 minutes after arriving. The child is now being treated  at the No. 1 Hospital affiliated with  Tsinghua Hospital and is in critical condition. Medical staff fear that the child may have ingested fecal material found in the waste pipes that may produce a dangerous infection or disease. Newborns that ingest their own or their mother’s waste even under antiseptic conditions can contract serious or fatal diseases.

However, China Daily reports that the baby girl is expected to recover. "My sister-in-law and niece are both OK now. As soon as doctor permits it, we'll bring the baby home," Zhang Zhenghua told the China Daily.

This is not the first time that babies have been born in toilets in China, or elsewhere. However, China’s one child per couple policy places great pressures on women. Women who become pregnant a second time may be required to have an abortion against their will under China’s authoritarian system. Cai Qulin and husban Zhang Tao already have a 17-year-old son and came nearly two decades ago from a rural area in China to Beijing where strictures on family size are more severe.

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