(Photo: Screen Grab via KHOU)
A maintenance worker at an apartment complex in Houston, Texas, is being praised after he rescued a baby boy from a dumpster. Doctors say the baby was born just four or five hours prior to the find.
The worker, Carlos Michel, 51, told the Houston Chronicle that he heard the cries of the newborn coming from the dumpster about 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. At first, he thought it was an animal dying – perhaps a kitten – and it was struggling.
On closer examination of the dumpster, he found a white trash bag that he grabbed and placed on the ground. He quickly ripped the bag open and was shocked by what he found inside.
"I almost had a heart attack," said Michel.
The baby boy was stuffed inside along with a bit of discarded school work. His umbilical cord was still attached, his body was cold and his face and hands were purple. The only reason Michel knew the baby was still alive were the cries.
Local police say they were able to track down the baby's mother, identified as a 16-year-old student at South Houston High School. Witnesses told KHOU that her name was on the school papers found inside the trash bag.
Both the mother and child, estimated to be about 7 to 8 pounds in weight, are being treated at area hospitals.
"It's a pretty big baby," said Gregory Crew, the maintenance supervisor at the apartment complex where the child was discovered.
Crew, 46, said he's shocked that the newborn didn't suffocate inside the trash bag. "That baby's a miracle," he said. "That's for sure."
Michel told the Chronicle that after he discovered the baby, he wrapped the baby in his work shirt and tried warming him with his own body heat. Eventually a colleague drove up in a pickup and he hopped inside to warm the baby some more. He watched the baby's purpled face turn rosy as he got warmer and thought of his own grandson, who was born two months earlier.
He said he was so concerned about the baby's life he did everything in his power to make sure he did not fall asleep before paramedics arrived.
"I didn't want him to die in my arms," said Michel.
Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin praised him for saving the boy's life.
"He heard the cries and took action, instead of just assuming it was an animal and leaving it there," she said, adding that the agency is investigating the case.
She also noted that Texas' 1999 "Baby Moses" law allows parents leave infants up-to 60 days old and unharmed, at a hospital, fire station or ambulance station without fear of prosecution.
"Really, surrendering your baby to a safe haven site gives your baby a chance," said Olguin.