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Baby delivered from dying mother's womb in Gaza 'miracle'

By AFP - Apr 24,2024 - Last updated at Apr 24,2024

A Palestinian doctor tends to the baby of Sabreen Al Sakani, who reached the emergency unit of the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip in critical condition after she was gravely wounded in the head and abdomen in an Israeli air strike, according to witnesses on Saturday (AFP photo)

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories — Under a ceaseless storm of strikes in Gaza, a baby girl has survived insurmountable odds as the only member of her family left alive after she was delivered by Caesarian section as her mother lay dying.

At just seven months pregnant, her mother, Sabreen Al Sakani, reached the emergency unit in critical condition after she was fatally wounded in the head and abdomen at the weekend.

An Israeli air strike hit her family's house in the east of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, witnesses told AFP.

"It's a miracle that she was still alive, despite her difficulties in breathing," Sahib Al Shams, a surgeon and director of the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah, told AFP.

While examining Sakani, the hospital's medical team realised she was pregnant.

They decided to go ahead with a C-section immediately, despite a lack of anaesthetics.

"The mother died 10 minutes later," Shams said, adding that the baby's father and sister had been declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Hospital staff said the baby was in stable condition on Tuesday morning.

At least 19 people died in the air strike on the Sakani family home, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The newborn was transferred to the paediatrics unit of the Emirati hospital, a field hospital established in December in Rafah to cope with the besieged Palestinian territory's mounting toll of injured and dead.

"We quickly put her in an incubator, put her on oxygen and treated her with antibiotics," Haidar Abu Snimeh, an official at the Emirati hospital, told AFP. 

'Baby of the martyr' 

Rami Al Sheikh, the baby's uncle, will become the orphan's caretaker upon her release from the hospital.

“Every day, I go to the hospital to check on my brother’s daughter who was rescued from her mother’s womb,” Sheikh told AFP.

“I named her ‘Sabreen Al Ruh’ because her father wanted to name her Ruh,” he added, referring to the Arabic word for soul.

Several local media said the baby weighed less than two kilogrammes, and that her mother had been in her seventh month of pregnancy when she was born.

“The fact that this little girl was born alive despite the circumstances is nothing short of a great feat,” Abu Snimeh said.

He added that when a pregnant woman like Sakani struggles to breathe, the foetus lacks oxygen, which can hinder its development.

Palestinian journalists filmed the birth, footage of which was widely circulated Monday.

Israel’s ongoing military offensive in Gaza has killed at least 34,183 people, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

More than 1.5 million of 2.4 million Gazans were estimated to have taken refuge in Rafah, in the far south on the border with Egypt, though thousands have since been seen heading back north.

A handful of similar births were reported in the coastal territory.

Mecca Abu Chamalah was born by post-mortem C-section on October 21, after his mother was critically wounded by an air strike on their home in Rafah.

The identification tag pinned to his incubator read “baby of the martyr Dareen Abu Chamalah”.

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