Abu Dhabi hospital cares for abandoned baby awaiting new home

Universal Hospital has looked after the child named Sebastian for the past nine months since his mother from the Philippines absconded.

Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi has looked after a baby they named Sebastian for the past nine months since his Filipina mother abandoned him and fled the country. Anwar Ahmad / The National
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ABU DHABI // A hospital was left caring for a baby boy when his mother fled the building and boarded a flight out of the country, fearing the birth out of wedlock would lead to jail time.

Universal Hospital has looked after the child, named Sebastian, for the past nine months since his mother, from the Philippines, absconded.

Doctors said they and the embassy are trying to create a future for the child, including an adoption.

“We couldn’t leave the baby so we took on the responsibility and have been caring him for the last nine months,” said Dr Shabeer Nellikode, the hospital’s founder and managing director.

Staff said the woman was in the final stages of labour when she was rushed to the facility on Airport Road.

The child was taken to the intensive care unit following complications at birth.

As he was being monitored, the mother, who had no insurance documents available, explained to staff that she would leave the hospital to arrange payment for the procedure and treatment, but never returned.

Staff later learned she was married and her husband remained in the Philippines. But she had become pregnant by another man in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Essam Ali, a senior quality manager, said medical staff have been in talks with the Philippines embassy for some time.

“We approached the Philippines embassy in Abu Dhabi but they told us that the mother is not interested in the baby,” he said.

The hospital allocated a room that has swing, a bed, sofa, toys and a full-time nurse to look after the child. The hospital said it will cover all expenses.

Several staff have offered to adopt the baby, but the process is complex.

Dr Ali visits Sebastian every day.

“The lady left behind the baby and escaped from the country. She was afraid that her husband would come to know about the baby and this would jeopardise their marriage,” said the Egyptian, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for more than 20 years.

During the time she was in the hospital, the mother was not able to produce her passport copy, or that of the father, or a marriage certificate.

Without that hospital cannot issue a birth certificate.

Dr Ali said he planned to travel to the Philippines in an attempt to find a way to adopt the child.

“There is a lengthy procedure for adoption in Philippines as well, but I will go there to work through the legal channels.

“If the mother refuses to take the baby, this allows others to adopt legally,” said Dr Ali, who hopes the child will join his family.

He has a wife and a 12-year-old boy.

After eight months of negotiation with the Philippines embassy, he said officials have issued a passport to Sebastian, although the child needs legal clearance to travel outside the country.

The Philippines embassy confirmed that negotiations are ongoing. A spokesman said: “We can’t give any details as to what we are doing about the baby, as the investigation is ongoing”.