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Wichita police locate woman who left hospital without baby

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at 11:52 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at 10:12 p.m.

Wichita police announced Thursday night that authorities have found a woman who checked out of a local hospital the day after giving birth to a premature baby and leaving against medical advice.

In an e-mailed statement, agency spokesman Lt. Doug Nolte said the woman was located thanks to the public’s assistance.

“Her health and well-being are fine,” he wrote in the e-mail. “We want to thank the public for their concern and help.”

Contacted by phone, Nolte would give no specifics on where or when the woman was found. He said more details would be released Friday at a 10 a.m. news briefing with police at City Hall.

Authorities on Thursday morning requested the public’s help in finding the woman because she used an alias at the hospital and may need medical care, said Lt. Jeff Weible of the Exploited and Missing Child Unit.

The woman, who appeared to be in her 20s, gave the name Hannah O’Conner at the hospital, but Weible said investigators determined that wasn’t her real name.

She gave birth at 7 p.m. Monday to a boy who was born at 32 weeks, Weible said. She then checked herself out of the hospital shortly after 8 a.m. the next day.

“Anybody that leaves the hospital prior to being medically cleared, obviously there’s a concern for,” Weible said Thursday morning.

Because the case falls under the state’s safe haven law, police said they don’t expect there to be any prosecution for leaving the child at a safe location.

The Newborn Infant Protection Act, passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2006, allows a mother or guardian to surrender a child at a hospital or police or fire station up to 45 days after the child is born – provided the child hasn’t been physically harmed.

The infant is being cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph, Weible said. After struggling initially with intestinal issues, the boy is responding well.

“This is the first case that I’ve seen” of a mother checking out of a hospital after giving birth and leaving the newborn behind, Weible said Thursday morning.

It’s the second case in Wichita that met the criteria of the safe haven law, he said.

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