Residents made a miraculous discovery while sifting through the rubble of a collapsed building in Jenderis, a town (also spelled Jindayris and Jinderis) on the Turkish border in northwest Syria. Amidst the destruction, they found a newborn baby girl, still connected to her deceased mother by her umbilical cord. Her father and all four of her siblings also died in the catastrophic earthquake.
The infant had been born and buried alive amidst the debris from Monday’s devastating earthquake. People heard her crying and rescued her. A neighbor cut the umbilical cord and rushed her to an incubator at a children’s hospital in Afrin, with rescuers throwing a blanket over the baby as they evacuated.
Journalist Pankaj Mishra shared a now-viral Twitter video that captured the miraculous rescue.
“After the earthquake, a pregnant lady gives birth to a baby under the collapse building,” Mishra wrote in the tweet. “People heard the crying sound, it [was] a baby girl. Baby’s placenta was still attached with mother who has passed away. Sadly she was only survivor in family.”
Syria : After the earthquake, a pregnant lady gives birth to a baby under the collapse building. People heard the crying sound, it ws a baby girl. Baby’s placenta was still attached with mother who has passed away. Sadly she was only survivor in family.#TurkeySyriaEarthquake pic.twitter.com/0zHSa5kzvt
— Pankaj Mishra (@nn_pankaj) February 8, 2023
Dr. Hani Maarouf, one of the pediatricians caring for the newborn, estimated she was several hours old when discovered. She was named Aya, Arabic for “a sign from God.” Although Aya’s body temperature had dropped to 95 degrees and she had a big bruise on her back, she is now in stable condition.
Aya remains in a hospital in Afrin, where she is being cared for by hospital manager Dr. Khalid Attiah and his wife. In an act of extraordinary kindness, Attiah’s wife, who also has a four-month-old baby, volunteered to breastfeed the newborn.
Since the news of the baby’s miraculous survival has spread, thousands of offers to adopt her have poured in from around the world. However, as soon as she is released from the hospital, Aya will be taken in by her father’s uncle, Salah al-Badran. Although his own home in Jenderis was destroyed, he and his family were able to escape safely.
“I won’t allow anyone to adopt her now,” Dr. Attiah told the BBC. “Until her distant family return, I’m treating her like one of my own.”