Amid the devastation caused by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, one story has offered a glimmer of hope: A baby girl was rescued after being born beneath the rubble of her family’s building.
The story of the infant has touched numerous hearts, with many offering to adopt her – and now, she has a new home with the uncle who helped save her life.
The baby was born in Jinderis, Syria, sometime after a disastrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region on Feb. 6. Her entire immediate family – including her mother, father, four siblings and an aunt – died, according to AFP.
It was only when rescuers were looking to identify the bodies of her family that they heard her cry. Among those searching through the rubble was the baby’s uncle Khalil al-Sawadi, who told the Associated Press that he had rushed over after the quake and was digging through the rubble when they heard the infant.
When they found her, she was still attached to her mother, prompting al-Sawadi to grab a razor he had in his pocket and use it to cut the umbilical cord, he told the AP. After attempting to take her to two hospitals that said they were too full for more patients, they finally got her the care she needed at a children’s hospital.
Hani Marouf, the pediatrician who was helping care for the baby at the hospital, said that when she initially arrived, she was “in such a bad state.”
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“She had bumps, bruises, she was cold and barely breathing,” Marouf told the AP. “Had the girl been left for an hour more, she would have died.”
It was there that officials gave the baby a name, Aya, which is Arabic for “a sign from God,” according to the AP. Her story soon made headlines, and it wasn’t long before offers to adopt the infant started pouring in. The manager of the hospital where the baby was being treated told the BBC that he had gotten many calls from people seeing if they could take her in.
CBS News shared the baby’s story on TikTok, where one person said, “I would love to adopt that baby since she has no family left.” Another said, “If she has no family I will take her. She melts my heart.”
@cbsnews A newborn in #Syria who was still attached to her mother when she was found under her home’s rubble is now the sole survivor of her immediate family. #earthquake #news #baby ♬ News and incidents / piano solo / sad(1064897) – hiroki kobayashi
Al-Sawadi renamed her Afraa, the same name that was held by her birth mother who died in the earthquake. Al-Sawadi, his wife and their six children are staying with family in Jinderis as their own home was also destroyed in the earthquake, the AP said, but they are eager to bring her in. One of their children was born just days after Afraa.
“She is one of my children now. I will not differentiate between her and my children,” Al-Sawadi told the outlet. “She will be dearer than my children because she will keep the memory alive of her father, mother and siblings. … I will raise her in a way that she will not feel in need for anything.”
Afraa’s family are among thousands who have died in the earthquake and its aftermath. Their Jinderis home was one of dozens of buildings that were destroyed, the AP said. The death toll is nearing 45,000 people, making the disaster one of the deadliest earthquake incidents of the 21st century and the deadliest in more than a decade.