January 24, 2011
No longer living in New York, I received no less than three emails and phone calls from good friends and colleagues regarding the story of Carlina White, the 23 year old woman who was kidnapped from a New York City Hospital and then miraculously reunited with her birth parents. White was kidnapped from Harlem Hospital, my institution of residency training, one year before I arrived. What happened to White is every parent’s worst nightmare. You bring your sick baby to a hospital to be healed and discover that she’s been kidnapped. Sixteen year old Joy White brought her 19 day old baby to the pediatric department at Harlem Hospital because she had a 104°F temperature. The next day the baby was gone and her parents’ anguish continued for the next 23 years. Allegedly a woman impersonating as a nurse kidnapped the baby after experiencing a recent pregnancy loss.
By the time I arrived at Harlem Hospital (aka Harlem) the following year, security was heightened. I now understand the reason why some 23 years later. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children between 1983 and 2008, there have been approximately 250 infant abductions in the U.S. hospitals prompting an increase in technology as a means of enhancing nursery security. As recent as 2008, a baby was kidnapped from the nursery of a community hospital less than 20 minutes from my home. Under similar circumstances, Jennifer Latham, a woman impersonating a nurse took a baby from its mother under the pretense of taking it for clinical tests. However, as soon as Latham left the hospital an alarm went off and the hospital was immediately in lockdown. Unfortunately, it was too late because Latham had already left the premises. Nevertheless, several hospital employees observed Latham getting into her car and the Sanford police quickly arrested her.
Do you know how secure your hospital nursery is? Most hospital nurseries have ID bracelets for both mom and baby that trigger an alarm if tampered with. There are other features such as a baby channel, locked nursery entrances and surveillance equipment. And never, ever give your baby to anyone who does not have proper hospital identification.
The kidnapping of Carline White had a happy ending albeit 23 years later. Unfortunately, that is an exception rather than the rule. In my next blog post I will discuss the importance of a labor and delivery tour and questions every expectant mother should ask. Until next time, remember, a healthy pregnancy and delivery doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.
December 28, 2009
“A newborn baby abandoned in a Kenyan forest was saved by a stray dog who apparently carried her across a busy road and through a barbed wire fence to a shed where the infant was discovered nestled with a litter of puppies.” CBS News covered this story as well.
This baby girl was dressed in a torn shirt and wrapped in a plastic bag when the dog found her in a poor neighborhood near a forest in Nairobi. She was approximately two days old. “When the dog picked up the baby in a dirty bag, it came and dropped her behind the wooden building where the dog has its puppies,” stated an eyewitness. The baby was found by children who had heard her cry and was eventually taken to the hospital where, with the exception of an infected umbilical cord, was doing well. This story gave me reason to pause. Obviously, the act of abandonment was superseded by the will of a higher power who proclaimed that this baby would live. What amazed me the most was the compassion and bravery of the dog. It had risked its own life by crossing a busy street while holding on to the baby, faced physical harm as it crawled underneath a barbed wired fence and shared its resources by placing the baby alongside its own litter of puppies. Perhaps the dog understood how miraculous this newborn baby was even if its own mother didn’t.
In a world of infinite possibilities, miracles can occur under the most unusual circumstances. And yes, we can gain profound insight, even from a dog.
This excerpt is taken from The Smart Mother’s Guide® to a Better Pregnancy. All Rights Reserved.
June 4, 2009
And there it was on the front page of the New York Times for the whole world to see. Where Life Starts Is a Deadly Risk, by Denise Grady, described a harsh reality that is often mentioned as a mere footnote. More than half a million pregnant women die from preventable deaths and over a quarter million occur in Africa. Of course there are not enough financial and human resources available and their stories are disheartening. For each woman who dies, 20 more encounter serious complications. Physicians state that more deaths occur outside the hospital because many try to give birth at home. This leads to my next point.
There are a growing number of women who want to give birth at home alone, without a midwife or birth attendant. I posted a blog about this “unassisted” phenomena a few weeks ago after one of their advocates’ baby ended up dead. I subsequently received a comment from a woman who discussed how “tribal” women would rather deliver without intervention and their biggest obstacle was poverty. Not so. There are millions of African women who would love to trade places with the “unassisted” crowd in a heartbeat. Yes, childbirth is a natural act but it is not exempt from danger.
Grady’s article reads like a litany of horror. A mother of six bled to death because the nurses did not know how to remove the placenta. A mother of quadruplets died leaving four beautiful babies in an orphanage. Two and three laboring women sharing one cot. America, we are so blessed. The cost to run a hospital in Tanzania costs $200,000 a year. I challenge the American College of Obstetricians-Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Board of Obstetrician-Gynecologists (ABOG) and all the rest of the deep-pocket women’s organizations to step up to the plate. We are our sisters’ keepers. When a mother and baby die, the whole world mourns.
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