In what appears to be a Christmas miracle, a five-hour old baby girl abandoned in a cardboard box on a Philadelphia sidewalk was discovered and rescued after almost being mistaken for trash.
Today, the baby dubbed “Baby Noel” by police and nurses is in stable condition at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, but her identity remains a mystery.
“She’s in really good condition. We’re very fortunate with the timing, weather and the church finding the baby,” Philadelphia Police spokesman Ray Evers told ABCNews.com. “We had a lot of things that fell into place. If it was any closer, the baby would have been thrown out with the trash. It was scary close.”
Police are asking for the public’s help in searching for the mother. The infant was found in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, and they have had no leads on who she may belong to.
“We don’t have anything solid yet,” Evers said. “We’re looking for anyone that knew of a woman that was pregnant in the neighborhood and isn’t anymore to give us a call.”
The infant was found on Wednesday in a cardboard box in front of a church. The box was dangerously close to a pile of trash bags and a telephone pole.
Homer Keller, an employee of the church, was outside cleaning up when he spotted the box. He was prepared to throw it out with the rest of the garbage, when a sound caught his attention.
“I heard a little sound like a baby or kitten or something,” Keller told ABC News’ Philadelphia affiliate WPVI. “I thought it was a kitten, and then I pulled over the cover back off of it, and it was a baby.”
The baby was “wrapped in a red and white hounds-tooth patterned blanket, an adult-sized brown women’s sweater, black bathrobe with polka dots and a large peach colored towel,” according to police.
Keller called 911 and waited for paramedics to arrive. The little girl was rushed to the hospital, where doctors determined she was miraculously uninjured and in good condition, even though she was only a few hours old and weighed only 5.5 pounds.
“I’m not a math guy, but the probability of everything falling into place [like it did] is very, very low,” Evers said.
The Philadelphia Department of Human Services said that the baby will be in the hospital for “several more days.”
The baby has pulled on heart-strings all over the country, with calls flooding in from across the nation with inquiries about adopting Baby Noel and donating money.
“We already have families who have been screened and foster families who want to adopt,” Philadelphia Department of Human Services spokeswoman Alicia Taylor told ABCNews.com. “People calling today will not be able to get this baby, but we have a lot of other children who also need families.”
Taylor said that if the baby’s relatives are located, re-unification is always the priority. She said that even if the mother left the child, there are often cases where other relatives did not even know about the baby and might want to take her in.
Otherwise, Baby Noel will be placed in a foster home.
Authorities also want the public to know that there are proper ways for people in difficult situations to hand their children over if they cannot care for them. Philadelphia has Safe Haven laws that allow for children to be dropped off at places such as hospitals and fire departments.
For now, the man who found Baby Noel is just happy that he was in the right place at the right time.
“I don’t want to judge anybody,” Keller said. “I’m just glad the little girl is alive.”