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Newborns switched; real parents sought

Mix-up apparently occurs at a German clinic, which is running tests to find the families.

December 09, 2007|From the Associated Press

BERLIN — Two newborn girls were mistakenly switched at a clinic in southwestern Germany and went home with the wrong parents, and doctors are trying to correct the mistake, authorities said Friday.

The mix-up, which occurred at the St. Elisabeth clinic in Saarlouis this summer, only recently came to light after one of the fathers took a paternity test, area Councilwoman Monika Bachmann said. His wife then took a test and learned that she was not the girl's mother, according to a report in the top-selling Bild newspaper.

The clinic is trying to find out who the real parents are, said St. Elisabeth's director, Franz-Josef Backes. A total of 14 families are possibilities, and blood and DNA are being tested to resolve the matter, he said.

Results from those tests could take one to two weeks.

"It is really a terrible time for the parents, to be left hanging like that," Backes said.

The woman who took home the wrong baby is under 24-hour supervision by health service counselors, Bachmann said. "It is a very difficult situation," she said.

Mathias Uhlig, the head doctor at the clinic, said there was a possibility that the children were somehow mixed up outside the clinic, given that the only other children born on the same day were two boys.

He also noted that the mother had her photo taken with her infant, who already had the standard plastic identification band on her arm, he said.

Still, the clinic is examining its procedures to see where the error may have occurred, Uhlig said.

In a separate case in the Czech Republic, two families near Prague this week were swapping their nearly 1-year-old baby girls after tests revealed they had been mistakenly switched at birth.

After weeks of visits to help the families adjust, the girls went home with their biological parents on Monday, the Lidove Noviny daily reported Tuesday.

The clinic where the mix-up took place -- in Trebic, 100 miles southeast of Prague -- called it a "regrettable" case and a result of "serious mistakes" made by two nurses who since have been fired.

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