A police manhunt was mounted over the weekend after a young mother left Faro hospital two hours after giving birth to a son she feared would be taken into care by Social Services.
According to friends of 28-year-old Alexandra Patrício she had vowed that she would not let social workers “take another child”.
Only a month before, her 6-year-old son Óscar had been removed from her care from their home in Caliços, Albufeira, although neighbours interviewed by national tabloid Correio da Manhã have said she is a good mother.
The story first appeared, warning that Alexandra’s new baby was not well, and in urgent need of medical attention.
By Monday, this news had been updated to suggest the child had been born with “abstinence syndrome”, a pathology detected in children whose mothers are drug addicts.
According to CM, Alexandra was caught on Faro Hospital’s CCTV removing her baby from neonatal intensive care and putting him in a rucksack.
As media has confirmed, she “took advantage of the change of shifts” to smuggle her baby out without being instantly detected.
Hospital director Pedro Nunes has been interviewed, explaining “patients are not in a prison” and cannot be prevented from leaving of their own volition nor can hospital authorities “go through everyone’s bags” when they do so.
But the truth is that in this case, it is imperative that Alexandra’s baby gets medical attention.
Abstinence syndrome means the child will go into “withdrawal” just like any adult deprived of his or her habitual fix – and this is what is worrying authorities.
So far, the woman and her child are being sought throughout the Algarve and Alentejo.
Originally from Beja, Alexandra had been living in Albufeira.
According to reports, she has not gone home and the father of her newborn has no idea where she is.
In Beja, her mother too has denied all knowledge of her daughter’s whereabouts.