On Friday the 15th, the WCJ 2011 session II crew went to Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto Prefecture after a brief (and very, very warm) adventure at Kumamoto castle. For those in the know, going to a hospital an hour away might seem odd, as there are several hospitals in Arao all worthy of a visit. Jikei hospital, however, has something unique to the whole of Japan: a so-called Baby Deposit Box. A Baby Deposit Box, despite the oddly sounding name, is an initiative for the rights of babies in danger of being abandoned by their parents.
The set up is like this: there’s a hatch in the one of the hospital walls. The hatch reveals a cozy cot in which one can put the baby. The cot is lined with soft materials and the room is insulated to keep the baby warm. When the baby is put into the cot, an alarm sounds to alert a nurse with special training to pick up the baby and have it checked out by doctors. There’s also a camera for surveillance of the baby.
The initiative for the Baby Deposit Box, or Stork’s Cradle as it is called, was taken by Dr. Hasuda Taiji, former Chief Director of Jikei Hospital. After three baby deaths in the local community surrounding the hospital, the doctor was very distressed that his hospital couldn’t offer the babies and their families help. He was inspired by a trip he had taken to Germany, where there are many Baby Deposit Boxes, to make one in Japan, and despite some hardships the Stork’s Cradle was opened in 2007. Dr. Hasuda was not so concerned by the many controversies that arose but rather with the fact that children who otherwise would be abandoned should have a chance at life. For Dr. Hasuda, the children are, and will be, the first priority. And to date, 75 children have been given a second chance at life. Thank you very much Jikei Hospital for welcoming us all and sharing your time with us. Afterwards we had the chance to discuss in our group representing 9 countries how our culture and countries views programs like this and to hear so many different views and perspectives from around the world was really a unique experience.
(Alexandra Kristinnsdottir from Norway)