Thousands of people have offered to adopt a baby girl whose mother gave birth under the rubble of a five-story apartment building that collapsed in Syria after Monday’s earthquake.
Little Aya – which means miracle in Arabic – was found buried under concrete more than 10 hours after the earthquake with her umbilical cord still connected to her deceased mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya. Her father and all four of her brothers also died after the devastating earthquake hit the northwestern Syrian city of Jindayris, near the Turkish border.
After a neighbor cut Aya’s cord, she was rushed to a nearby children’s hospital and placed in an incubator. The doctor treating the little girl, Dr. Hani Maarouf of Cihan Hospital in Afrin, said Aya’s condition was improving day by day and there was no damage to her spine, as initially feared.
Previously:Newborn rescued after being born under the rubble of the Syrian earthquake
‘heartbreaking’:Drone footage shows destruction caused by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria
Footage of a man shooting from the collapsed debris of a building, keeping Aya covered in dust, has gone viral on social media. Maarouf said the baby’s lowered body temperature indicated she was born about three hours before she was found.
Since Aya’s rescue, hospital director Khalid Attiah says he has received dozens of calls from people around the world wanting to adopt baby Aya. Additionally, thousands of people ask about adoption details on social media.
For now, Attiah’s wife, who has a daughter only four months older than her, will be breastfeeding Aya along with her own child.
“I will not allow anyone to adopt her now. Until her distant family returns, I will treat her as one of my own,” Attiah said.
Once released from the hospital, Aya will be taken in by her great-uncle, Salah al-Badran, whose house in Jenderis has been destroyed. Al-Badran now lives in a tent with 11 of his family.
More than 21,000 people in northern Syria and southeastern Turkey have been killed after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, leaving untold numbers of orphans in its wake. The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, said it had been coordinating with hospitals to track down extended family members who may be able to care for orphaned children.
100 years of earthquakes:Turkey, Syria’s disaster could be among the worst of this century
In Turkey, children whose families or relatives have not been found are being cared for in state institutions, where staff assess their needs and place them in registered foster families, the Ministry of Family and Social Services said.
Near the opposition-controlled Syrian town of Azaz, a non-governmental organization has set up a makeshift orphanage that now houses around 40 children.
Contributed: Associated Press
Camille Fine is a trend visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team.