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Hospital baby switch discovered two decades later with DNA test

Two newborns girls were given to the wrong parents in 2002 after being born five hours apart at...
Two newborns girls were given to the wrong parents in 2002 after being born five hours apart at a hospital in Spain. They were both in incubators because they were born underweight.(Source: Canva/Jupiterimages)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 1:38 AM MDT
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MADRID (AP) - Health authorities in Spain are blaming human error for the switching of two baby girls in a maternity ward almost 20 years ago, after one of them discovered by chance through a DNA test as a teenager that she wasn’t the daughter of her presumed parents.

“It was a human error and we haven’t been able to find out who was to blame,” Sara Alba, health chief of Spain’s northern La Rioja region, told a news conference Tuesday.

She spoke after the local newspaper La Rioja published a report Tuesday about the switch.

The newborns were mixed up in 2002 after being born five hours apart at a hospital in La Rioja. They were both in incubators because they were born underweight.

One went to live with the people she believed to be her parents, while the other was raised by a woman she believed to be her grandmother, according to The Guardian.

The switch was discovered by the latter girl about four years ago after a DNA test involving a child support complaint. It was determined the girl was not biologically related to either of her presumed parents.

Now 19, the woman who first discovered she had been given to the wrong parents is demanding compensation of 3 million euros ($3.5 million) from local health authorities. Her lawyer said his client had suffered “negligence so serious that it speaks for itself,” The Guardian reports.

She has so far only been offered compensation of 215,000 euros ($254,000), according to the BBC.

“The systems back then were different and weren’t as computerized as they are now,” Alba said, offering assurances something like this couldn’t happen again.

The other woman who was handed to the wrong parents has been informed of the mistake, the La Rioja newspaper said. Neither woman was identified.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press and Gray News. All rights reserved.