The parents of a premature baby born in India were able to save their son's life by incubating him inside an icebox, the Cover Asia Press reported.
Mithilesh Chauhan was born to Aruna and Ramseh Chauhan in October 2013 at Alliance Hospital in Mumbai. Little Mithilesh was born two months premature, weighing only 3 pounds 3 ounces and prone to infections.
But the parents could not keep up with the daily payments of $130 to keep their son in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. So one of the doctors suggested an inexpensive alternative.
"One doctor told us that if we couldn't afford to keep our baby in hospital we should try a Thermocol icebox with holes for ventilation and a 60-watt bulb to provide the right amount of warmth," Aruna Chauhan, 34, told the newspaper. "He advised it was better than nothing and might save our baby. My husband bought the box from a nearby fish market and cut holes in it."
Ramesh makes $160 a month working as a shop assistant. Aruna and her husband were initially able to pay for their son's hospital stay by borrowing money from relatives.
"But in the end there was no one else left to ask." Aruna told the Cover Asia Press.
After 20 days they had no choice but to discharge their sick son. The parents reached out to other government-run hospitals, but the ICU waiting lists were too long and they were turned away.
Their only solution was the icebox. Every two hours Aruna and Ramesh removed their son from the box to take his temperature.
"It was awful," Aruna told the newspaper. "We had no idea if it was the right thing to do but we had to try something. We were terrified if we did nothing he'd die but we were also aware that what we were doing wasn't exactly safe either. It was a very distressing time."
Mithilesh is still alive after spending five months in the icebox. However, doctors say the baby is severely underweight. The Wadia Hospital for Children heard about the boy's condition and offered to treat him free of charge.
Baby Mithilesh is now receiving 24-hour medical care and should be home within the next few weeks, doctors told the Cover Asia Press.