A nurse has been suspended for leaving a premature baby with a stranger at a regional airport so she could catch a flight home to Adelaide, Australia.
The baby's father, Shahzad Hassan, said his five-day-old son, Rayaan, was left with a member of the public at Port Augusta airport on Christmas Eve because the nurse was "in a hurry" to get back to Adelaide.
Children, Youth and Women's Health Service chief executive officer Gail Mondy confirmed Tuesday that two staff members had been suspended and an investigation was launched in the wake of this "deeply regrettable" incident, according to a report in The Advertiser.
Mondy said "appropriate action" would be taken following the incident. It is believed the baby was left for about 15 minutes with a person unknown to either the parents or health authorities.
The baby's mother, Sarah Hassan, was still recovering from the birth and was driven home by her husband, leaving the baby to be transported by the nurse from the Women's and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide to Port Augusta Hospital.
Rayaan was born about six weeks early, which experts say would have left him at risk of a range of complications. He was born on December 19 at the WCH and was flown to Port Augusta on a commercial flight on the morning of December 24.
"We asked them specifically if it was safe for the baby to go on the plane, and they said it was not a problem, that a midwife would carry him all the way through to Port Augusta," Hassan said. "This woman brought the baby back here . . . she was in a hurry or something so she gave the baby to a person. She gave the baby to them."
A witness said that when the nurse arrived with Rayaan at about 7.40 a.m. and there was no one from the hospital there to meet her. When the pilot told her he needed to return to Adelaide immediately, she became frantic and upset, but said she would wait for an evening flight. A young woman – believed to be a teacher – offered to mind the baby until local nurses arrived.
It is understood the nurse sought and gained permission from a supervisor to leave the baby and return to Adelaide. The witness said the baby had been given his medication, was left for about 15 minutes and slept the whole time.
Hassan and his wife arrived back in Port Augusta that evening and visited Rayaan in the hospital. The next day the hospital contacted them and told them their child had been handed to a stranger.
"The person could have walked off with the baby and I never would have seen (him) again," Hassan said.
The Children, Youth and Women's Health Service confirmed two staff members were suspended from duty while the Government Investigations Unit conducts its inquiry.