Kumamoto hospital's baby hatch gets boy aged 3-4 on 1st day of operation
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 at 07:55 EDT
KUMAMOTO — Japan's first baby hatch, by means of which parents can anonymously leave newborns they cannot raise, at a Kumamoto Prefecture hospital unexpectedly got a young boy aged 3 or 4 on its first day in use Thursday, informed sources said Tuesday. According to the sources, the boy appears to be in good shape and says his father brought him to Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto City from outside the prefecture.
Jikei Hospital intended the baby hatch, which is equipped with an incubator and is designed to alert hospital staff when opened, to receive newborns the hospital would take care of for about a week. After they were confirmed as being in good health, the newborns would be raised at homes for infants. Poilce are investigating whether the boy's case constitutes an illegal act of parental abandonment.
Some praise the baby hatch as an attempt to save unwanted babies, but others say it encourages people to abandon children too easily. The boy was taken to the hatch at around 3 p.m., just after it opened for service at noon Thursday. The boy can say his name, they said. Hakuo Yanagisawa, minister of health, labor and welfare, said it should not have happened but the boy must now be taken care of at a child consultation center.