Thursday, March 03, 2005 | Baby 81 inspires charity wave (04-03-2005) | Baby 81 inspires charity wave (04-03-2005)

BABY 81, the infant who became Sri Lanka's most celebrated tsunami survivor, made his debut on US breakfast television yesterday to raise funds for quake victims back home.

Gurgling at news anchors who clamoured to hug the four-month-old, Abilass Jeyarajah appeared on ABC's Good Morning America show with his parents Murugupillai and Jenita, whose custody battle was settled only after court-ordered DNA tests proved he was their son.
"God only knows why they didn't give him to us," Mr Jeyarajah told ABC of the wrenching custody fight, which quickly became an international news story.

Abilass was seen by many as a beacon of hope for bereaved parents whose children were swept away by Asia's December 26 tsunami, which killed nearly 40,000 people along Sri Lanka's palm-fringed shores alone.

Ripped from his mother's arms by raging waters, Abilass was found alive amid debris on a Sri Lankan beach and taken to a hospital where staff gave him the nickname Baby 81, as he was the 81st person taken to the hospital after the tsunami struck.


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