She was a mother to abandoned baby

Singapore General Hospital (SGH)'s Nurse Clinician Suriani Muhamed Ishak taking care of a baby.
PHOTO: Berita Harian

Take in an abandoned baby? She did not take her husband's suggestion seriously at first.

In 2014, Madam Suriani Muhamed Ishak's husband received a call from an acquaintance asking him if he wanted a baby.

It had been born on a bus that was heading to Singapore.

"The baby's mother was a Malaysian cleaner and my husband had received a call from (her friend) another cleaner," she told Berita Harian.

The mother had doubts about keeping the baby, so the friend started calling as many contacts as possible.

Madam Suriani, 49, nurse clinician at the neurosurgery department of Singapore General Hospital, said that when the cleaner asked her husband if he wanted a baby, he had said that he did not mind.

"I thought he was joking!" she exclaimed. As a mother of five - aged between six and 22 - raising another child, let alone someone else's, was not on the cards.

Or so she thought.

In an interview with The New Paper (TNP), she said the change of heart came the moment she held the baby girl at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

"I was just overwhelmed with a sense of pity, I wanted to help to make sure that she gets the best care," she said.


The mother gave her verbal consent for Madam Suriani to look after the child. That was followed by an interview with the hospital's medical social worker.

"I was ready to take care of the baby so that the birth mother could settle whatever personal problems she had and be in a better position to take care of her child," she added.

While the mother said she needed time to sort herself out, the day after giving consent, she discharged herself and left Singapore.

The arrangement was meant to be short term, but it became clear that Madam Suriani would have to be a mother to a stranger's baby.

She gave the child the best start that she could, including taking the baby for medical check-ups and even doctor's appointments, paying out of her own pocket.

Madam Suriani also tried to locate the mother. She asked social workers for help and, through them and with the help of the Malaysian embassy, was able to track down the mother.

Later, Madam Suriani invited the baby's mother to her home in Jurong to visit the baby.

She also extended financial help to the mother so that she was able to pay for a passport and the baby's birth certificate.

For her efforts, Madam Suriani was honoured by the National Healthcare Group at its Healthcare Humanity Awards 2016 on May 6.

Madam Suriani received a $1,500 cheque and a medal.

Dr Tracy Carol Ayre, chief nurse at SGH, said Madam Suriani was nominated because she "represents the epitome of our core mission, which is to provide compassionate care for the community".

Sadly, there was no grand reunion.

According to Madam Suriani, the mother visited her baby less than five times in two years.

The mother was eventually persuaded to return to Singapore to settle giving up the baby for adoption by a different family.

Despite providing and caring for the baby for two years, adoption was not to be for Madam Suriani.

She told TNP: "I wanted to make sure that the baby was given a good family who could devote their time to taking care of her and who was able to give her the best chance that she can get."

This article was first published on May 23, 2016.
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