Urgent search for mum, newborn as 'human organs' found on riverbank by dog walker

Detectives say a man was walking his dog at 4.30pm on Monday when they stumbled across a placenta and umbilical cord at the Cooks River in Sydney.

Detectives stand by the riverbank at the Cooks River in Earlwood, in Sydney's southwest.
A placenta and umbilical cord were ford on the edges of the Cooks River in Earlwood, in the city's southwest. Source: NCA Newswire

Police are urging a mother to immediately seek medical treatment for herself and her newborn baby, after a human placenta and umbilical cord were found in mangroves on the banks of the Cooks River in Sydney.

Detectives say a man was walking his dog at 4.30pm yesterday when the pair stumbled across the organs on the edges of the river, in Earlwood in the city's southwest, with tests immediately confirming them to be human. Police now hold "serious concerns" for the mother and the baby, which evidence suggests was possibly "born near the water".

Addressing media on Tuesday, Superintendent Christine McDonald implored the mother to come forward as soon as possible, saying there was "no judgement" from police over the circumstances that led to the birth in the "particularly muddy" area.

The riverbank at the Cooks River in Earlwood, in Sydney's southwest, where evidence suggests a human birth took place.
Police are on the hunt for a newborn baby and her mother, after human organs were found on a riverbank in Sydney. Source: NCA Newswire

McDonald urged the woman to attend the nearest hospital to receive urgent care for herself and her child. "That certainly is a possibility that the person that has given birth... doesn't want anyone to know," she said during the media conference.

"There is no judgement. They need to know we are concerned for them. We are wanting to know they are safe. As we know, childbirth presents a number of health concerns which is why we are hoping the mother goes straight to a hospital and speaks to professionals."

It is unknown how long ago the baby was born.

McDonald said it's also unclear how the umbilical cord was cut. "It has been sent for priority testing with a pathologist and I hope to have results of that today. I will be able to provide an update once I have those results," she said.

"[There are ] a lot of unknowns at the moment that's why we are asking anyone with information to help us with this investigation because we have extreme concerns and we want this resolved quickly.

"We have no information at this stage who the mother might be."

Superintendent Christine McDonald pictured speaking to the media.
Superintendent Christine McDonald said police held 'extreme concerns' over the discovery. Source: ABC TV

Specialist sniffer dogs will soon be deployed to scout the area. Though there was "blood attached" to the organs, "no large pool of blood" suggesting an exact birth location has been found.

McDonald said that while evidence indicates the baby was possibly born somewhere along the riverbank, it appears the placenta and umbilical cord were "put there" after the birth.

"We are waiting for the results of the forensic pathologists, who are testing the placenta and umbilical cord to determine when it may have been put there.

"We were called [to the location] at 4.30pm yesterday and we know that at midday the tide was out and it started to come back in last night. We are working against the clock in relation to the tidal flow of the river, hence the search patterns have to be reflective of that," she added.

The Cooks River in Earlwood, in Sydney's southwest, where evidence suggests a human birth took place.
Overnight police conducted a large search of the surrounds of the Cooks River, with the search resuming on Tuesday morning. Source: NCA Newswire

Officers are appealing for anyone who lives in or was in the areas of Wardell Road and Lang Road, Earlwood, and Tennent Parade, Hurlstone Park and Ewen Park, Hurlstone Park yesterday afternoon, and may have seen a woman in distress to contact Burwood Police or Crime Stoppers.

Detectives conducted a large-scale search of the area overnight and those operations have continued on Tuesday morning, with a dive search team to look through the river also raised as an option.

Supt McDonald said police did not yet suspect the baby was in the river. "At this stage our main concern is for the whereabouts of the mother and the child," she said.

"We are doing everything we can and that's why the appeal is to come out, we see that as a really urgent matter for us to find her and her child, hopefully safe and healthy."

The Cooks River flows from Yagoona in Sydney's outer southwest and runs into Botany Bay at Kyeemagh, 23km away. It is heavily polluted as a result of traffic congestion, litter, sewage, illegal dumping and industrial and domestic activities.

A number of Sydney clean-up campaigns have focused on the waterway, while low-lying sections have also been susceptible to flooding.

with AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.