A man who’s got nothing gave the grandest gift of all to a newborn baby – life.

From the cancer-infested lungs of the desperately poor Albert Scholtz (52), the breath of life was enough to secure a future for a baby he might never see again.
On 25 January Brooklyn’s Scholtz helped deliver the child in a rusty, old caravan, and then when the baby didn’t breathe he had to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The unknown mother, who he describes as a strong woman in her late twenties, managed to walk to the nearby ambulance herself. That was the last time Scholtz saw her and the baby.
Tygerburger talked to the highly emotional and critically ill Scholtz to hear him tell his story. If his life has to date been an ominously dark cloud, then this chapter will be the silver-lining.

“I was in my caravan when someone in another caravan across the street called me. ‘Apie! Apie! There is a woman in here who’s giving birth,’ she said.”
Scholtz’ nickname, Apie, is derived from the monkey-sounds he makes to brings smiles to children’s faces.
“I went into the caravan and saw a woman on her hands and knees. The baby’s head was already out,” he recalls.
Scholtz sporadically gives a sickly cough during the interview.

“I’ve never caught a baby, but I have heard people talking about it,” he says.
He asked the woman, only known as Ms Applegreen, to push harder and then suddenly the baby was introduced to the world.
Something was wrong, however, since the child wasn’t breathing.
“I flicked the baby boy on his bum with my finger and cleaned his mouth, but he was still not breathing. Then I put my mouth over his and breathed air into his lungs.”
The baby gave a breath and started crying. He used ordinary scissors to cut the umbilical cord 13 centimetres from the baby’s stomach, just as he was told before.

Scholtz’s eyes beamed and he told the mother that she now has a beautiful baby boy.
A bystander contacted an ambulance and half an hour later it arrived on the scene.
As Scholtz tells the story he gets goose bumps and he occasionally wipes away the tears welling up in his eyes.
“The mother asked me if she can come back and live with me, and I said of course she could!”
Scholtz would love nothing more than to go and visit the woman, who told him that she doesn’t have a family, but he doesn’t even have enough money to afford a taxi to go to Somerset Hospital.
He claims she was taken there, but the hospital does not have a “Ms Applegreen” on their records.

TygerBurger contacted various other hospitals in the area and was unable to locate the mystery woman.
Various witnesses to the event do however vouch for Scholtz’s story.
Scholtz was diagnosed with lung cancer 13 years ago and his diminutive, painfully skinny body frame and “hollow” lungs underline just how ill he really is.
He doesn’t know how long he has to live, but he braves the cruel world nonetheless.

When asked what message he would like to give the baby boy, his eyes fill up with tears again, “I want to wish him the best of success for the future. I will not be there to see him grow up … ”
Scholtz looks off into the distance and then he drifts away into his chequered past.

Life can be beautiful, even if littered with misfortune.

***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

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