A two-year-old child who has spent his entire life in hospital due to a rare lung disease has not been neglected or had any of his rights breached, Children’s Rights commissioner Leda Koursoumba said on Tuesday.
Authorities are now trying to find a home for the boy so he can be given proper care and support. The only family he has had are the staff within the Makarios children’s hospital, where he was left when he was born by parents who felt they could not take care of him due to his serious health problems which required constant medical care.
The boy was hospitalised as soon as he was born because of his health problems but later his family, which faces a number of other problems, said they were not in a position to look after him, Koursoumba told the Cyprus Mail.
The state medical services, she said, had agreed to provide for him within the hospital as he needed a lot of daily care, while the social welfare services have been trying to find a family for him ever since.
The boy, who has never set foot outside the hospital and took his first steps in its corridors, no longer needs hospital care around the clock, but he is being raised by the staff of the children’s intensive care unit as social welfare services have not succeeded in finding him a family. Despite not needing hospitalisation, the boy still needs round the clock care.
“There was no other solution. It is not easy due to the problems he faces, but now some families have been found. Now the social services need to make sure the family he goes to will be able to care for him properly,” Koursoumba said.
She added that it is not ideal for the child to remain for such a long period of time in the hospital, as this is at the expense of his psychomotor development.
“We have been monitoring this case since 2014. It is a very difficult and complicated situation, however we are satisfied by the job of both the state medical and the social welfare services. We detected no neglect or breach of the child’s rights,” she said.
She added that it is important for a child to grow within a family environment as the absence of this element delays his or her psychomotor development. There are no orphanages in Cyprus, she said, as there are many couples waiting to adopt.
“The child is in very good health otherwise, he is being hosted here at the hospital until a family is found that can take care of him,” the head of the Makarios hospital’s children’s department Christina Karaoli told the Cyprus News Agency.
She too said some families have come forward but they are being evaluated by the social welfare services.
The chosen family will undergo training before they are able to take him home, she said.
Karaoli said the child receives a lot of care at the hospital and he is provided with everything he needs for his psychomotor development, until he goes to a foster family or he is adopted.
“This is a very delicate issue and ensuring the child’s private life and dignity is imperative,” a social welfare service official told CNA. The aim, she said, is “the best interest of the child”. She added that the service is taking all measures, as with all similar cases, for the child’s protection and to place him in “a permanent family environment”.
Koursoumba said that in cases a mother decides that she does not want to keep her baby, it is up to the state services to provide all the support she needs, economic and psychological, to strengthen her to be able to accept her child.