Police in China have rescued and reunited twin baby girls separated at birth when a maternity doctor at the center of a human trafficking ring took them from their mother.

The two infants were recovered by authorities in Shaanxi, northwest China, after being allegedly sold by Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician who was arrested over accusations he abducted newborn infants and sold them to human traffickers.

Zhang, deputy director of the maternity department of the Fuping Country Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital, reportedly convinced the twins’ mother, Wang Yanyan, to give up her children, telling her that the girls had serious health issues.

A baby boy also allegedly kidnapped by Zhang was earlier rescued and returned to his parents, who were overcome by emotion thinking they had lost their son forever.

Zhang had told the child’s parents that their son had contracted syphilis and convinced them to surrender the boy to the doctor’s care.

She then sold the baby boy for 21,600 yuan ($3,527) on July 17, a day after he was born. The baby was sold on the black market two more times within ten days, authorities in Fuping County said.

More than 50 similar cases have emerged since news of the scandal broke, broadening the probe on baby trafficking, reports China Daily.

A couple from Fuping County told CCTV Zhang had persuaded them to give up their son in 2008 after telling them the infant had stopped breathing shortly after birth.

Three government officials and three hospital managers have been sacked over the scandal, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

Provincial governor of Shaanxi Lou Qinjian on Thursday called the crime “vile” and ordered a “thorough probe” into the scandal.

China’s state health commission vowed severe punishment for those responsible.

by Maesie Bertumen

Image: sebra / Shutterstock.com