Paramedic Leo Fourie cradles a baby he rescued from a toilet in Pietermaritzburg yesterday. The baby is recovering well in hospital despite having been partly submerged in the bowl. 	Picture: Leanne Jansen
Paramedic Leo Fourie cradles a baby he rescued from a toilet in Pietermaritzburg yesterday. The baby is recovering well in hospital despite having been partly submerged in the bowl. Picture: Leanne Jansen

Abandoned baby saved from drowning in toilet

By Time of article published Sep 12, 2011

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Leanne Jansen

SLEEPING soundly in her hero’s arms, the baby is oblivious to the fuss and the flashing cameras. She will also have no recollection of nearly not surviving her first hour in the world.

Had ER24 paramedic Leo Fourie found her two minutes later, the newborn would have drowned in a toilet in the Pietermaritzburg city centre yesterday.

Cocooned in the nursery at Northdale Hospital, it’s difficult to believe that the tiny pink-face baby was as blue as the dark patch that Fourie points out on his uniform just three hours earlier.

It is understood that her mother walked into a doctor’s surgery in Retief Street at about lunchtime, asked to use the toilet and inconspi- cuously left sometime later.

The police and emergency services were called in after a splashing sound was heard from beneath the closed toilet lid.

Burying his horror and shock, Fourie immediately lifted her out of the bowl and raced to the awaiting ambulance.

“Your heart sinks, but with her head having been submerged in water, time was of the essence. Anything longer than the two minutes it took us to get there and it could have turned out tragically.”

Struggling to breathe and desperately needing warmth, the baby’s mouth and nose were hurriedly cleared, and she was given oxygen and the comfort of a thick blanket. The infant, whose name nurses have yet to decide, is the seventh baby that Fourie and fellow paramedic Avi Singh have found abandoned in the past four years, but one of the few to have survived.

Singh recalled the relief at her “little squeaks” and when she opened her eyes en route to the hospital.

According to hospital staff, the newborn is miraculously perfectly healthy, except for “being a little cold”.

After all the necessary paperwork has been completed, a social worker will be appointed to her case and she will be taken to a place of safety.

She will most likely never remember her rescuer or the circumstances surrounding her birth, but last night Fourie would have given his own little girl an a especially tight hug.

“It hits home, especially when you’re a parent. I’m just grateful to go home to my daughter every day,” he said.

Police spokeswoman Joey Jeevan said a case of child abandonment had been opened, and the identity and whereabouts of the mother were unknown.

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