Police in China's northwestern Shaanxi province have rescued a newborn baby boy allegedly sold by an obstetrician, leading them to suspect the doctor scammed at least 10 more parents out of their newborns from the same hospital.
Surveillance footage from the lobby of the Fuping County Maternity Hospital in Shaanxi Province shows a middle-aged woman carrying a soundly sleeping newborn baby. Police alleage she snuck out of the hospital one night in mid-July and sold the baby to human traffickers. The woman carrying the baby was identified as Dr. Zhang Shuxia, 55, the deputy director of the hospital's maternity ward.
On July 16, 23-year-old mother Dong Shanshan gave birth to a baby boy at the hospital. But before she could catch even a glimpse of her child, he was taken away from her. Her doctor, Zhang Shuxia, kept her husband out of the delivery room, according to media reports. Zhang told him that both mother and child were infected with syphilis and hepatitis B. She persuaded the family that, since their baby had congenital illnesses, the best thing to do would be to give up their baby and trust her to "take care" of him.
Zhang is from the same village as the husband's family, and was in the same class with the husband's father in elementary school for five years. "Zhang was always the best student in my class, she was my friend. We chose this hospital because of her, two of my other grandchildren were delivered by her, and we trusted her," the husband's father told Southern Metropolitan daily Newspaper.
As the family grieved for their baby, they couldn't possibly imagine that Dr. Zhang had reached a deal with human traffickers and sold their son for 21,600RMB ($3,527). Middle men then re-sold the baby twice more, according to media reports.
The mother, Mrs. Dong, then went to another hospital, where she tested negative for syphilis and hepatitis B. The family grew suspicious and reported what had happened to the police.
A police investigation led them to a village in central Henan province. They found the baby in good shape last Sunday at the home of a man surnamed Zhu. Mr. Zhu is 32 and has three daughters. He was frustrated at not having a boy to carry on the family name, so he decided to buy one. A week ago, he bought Mrs. Dong's baby from a middle man for 60,000 RMB ($9,797).
The police have detained Zhang and five other suspects involved in the case. Three top leaders of the Fuping hospital have been dismissed and Zhang's medical license has been revoked. The police say there is no evidence that Zhang had any accomplices.
The case has now been widely reported by Chinese media, triggering a wave of public outrage. Since then, parents of 10 children from the same village have reported similar experiences. They gave birth to their babies in the same hospital. Dr. Zhang told them their babies were either already dead or suffering from severe "congenital diseases." All of these families trusted Zhang and let her "take care" of their babies, because Zhang was somebody's friend or relative.
Among the duped parents was Wang Yanyan, a farmer in Fuping who gave birth to twins on May 31. She says Dr. Zhang told her that her babies were abnormal and would not live past three years of age.
"She told us to give up our babies," Wang said, "and she never let us even look at them."
Ms. Wang chose the hospital because her father-in-law was an old classmate of Zhang. When Zhang persuaded the family to give up the babies, they trusted this old friend and later gave Zhang 55 pounds of wheat flour and a big bag of bread to thank her.
The state news agency Xinhua reported that the police have rescued the twin girls.
China's National Health and Family Planning Commission has called for severe punishment for those involved in the scheme. The Commission urged the Shaanxi provincial health department to manage its medical system more strictly and strengthen ethics training for medical personnel.
Dong Shanshan's family confirmed their baby's identity through DNA testing. In a highly emotional scene, police returned the baby to his parents. Twenty days after her baby was born and abducted, Dong Shanshan finally cradled him and burst into tears, as her husband knelt in gratitude to the police. He told the Chinese media that he plans to sue the hospital.