CHENNAI: Her name is Ashika, which means one who knows no sorrows. She does not need to, because she is only about six weeks old — so tender that she can’t possibly realise that she has been abandoned by her parents, both IT employees.
Why was she dumped? Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder she was born with, which is a burden the techie dad and mom do not want to carry. She has been handed over by them to the Child Welfare Committee, which tried in vain to convince them to bring up the child themselves.
When Ashika arrived at the CWC home, she was wrapped in a soft towel with an oxygen hood and a ryles tube. She kept crying for her mother. It took nearly 24 hours for her to get back to a normal state and start having food orally. Ashika was born with Down Syndrome, cardiac valve defect and mild injuries in her left kidney and thyroid gland.
Two days after her family handed over the baby to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Chengalpattu under the ‘cradle baby’ scheme, she was sent to a government-recognised children’s home in the city.
“The baby was brought to us in an ambulance as an orphan, which made us very sad. We immediately named her Ashika, meaning a person who knows no sorrows and troubles,” said a member of the home.
It has been 10 days since the baby moved to the home. When other babies of her age are in the arms of their parents and feeding on mother’s milk, Ashika has just started taking her supplies through a syringe, once every three hours.
The baby was dressed in a light blue top with green shorts. A speck of black kajal was applied on her forehead, to ward off evil. She sleeps on her dark-blue bed with pictures of penguins and dolls. “She loves to be pampered and is active during the nights and sleeps through most of the day,” says the caretaker with a chuckle.
Speaking on Ashika’s journey so far, Zaheeruddin Mohamad, a member of the Child Welfare Committee, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram District, said, Ashika was born in an affluent family on January 22. Both her parents are IT professionals who reside at Moulivakkam.
As soon as the parents realised that the child had health ailments, they consulted a private doctor.
The parents told the CWC member that the doctor informed them that a corrective surgery could be performed which would cost around `4.75 lakh, but had no guarantee that it would be successful. Panicking, the parents felt the cost to be a huge burden and decided to hand over the baby to CWC.
“A month after the baby was born, the parents and grandparents approached us. We counselled them and told them the treatment options and how the quality of life can be improved. But the family had made up their mind,” added Zaheeruddin.
“The family also approached Director of Social Welfare and District Social Welfare Kancheepuram. They even threatened to abandon the baby on the streets,” he said.
“We finally agreed to take the baby in under the ‘cradle baby’ scheme, and sent her to a home in Gerugambakkam,” he added.
“The baby currently weighs 3.15 kg. When she was brought to the home, she had difficulty in breathing and was provided with an oxygen hood. She was taken to the pediatrician and within two days, the oxygen hood was taken off,” said Dr G Renuga, CWC member, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram.
Explaining the child’s condition, she said that Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder, which is incurable. Though such children are generally dependent, there are cases where patients have completed their graduation.
The severity of the condition can be accessed only as the child grows up.