Woman Compensated After Receiving Wrong Baby (Photos)

| by Michael Howard
Sophie and Manon SerranoSophie and Manon Serrano

A French woman was awarded more than $2.2. million by a French court 20 years after an alcoholic nurse gave her the wrong baby.

In 1994, 18-year-old Sophie Serrano gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in Cannes, France.

Since the newborn had jaundice, a nurse placed her in an incubator near another baby, who was also born with jaundice, according to LittleThings.

As it turns out, the nurse was intoxicated at the time, and she accidentally swapped the newborns and sent the mothers home with each other's children.

"That nurse should not have been working," Serrano, now 38, told the Daily Mail. "There were bottles of alcohol in the nursery and it turned out that everybody knew."

Serrano says she knew something wasn't right, even before leaving the hospital since the baby's skin was too dark and her hair was too long. She even asked the hospital staff to confirm the baby, who she named Manon, was hers.

"Why would I not believe her?" Serrano said. "My baby was wearing the same clothes, she cried in exactly the same way. I noticed, but I accepted the nurse's explanation..."

After a year, Manon's complexion grew darker and her hair began to curl. Serrano attributed it to the fact that she is part-Spanish.

Meanwhile, Serrano's husband at the time was skeptical.

"He began asking me if he was the father, which I found incredibly insulting," Serrano said. "He hadn't taken well to fatherhood, he didn't help with Manon. And that he could accuse me of being unfaithful was very hurtful to me, I could never do that."

Serrano and her husband eventually separated, and when Manon was 9-years-old, a lawyer suggested her father demand a paternity test. When she received the results, which confirmed that Manon was neither her nor her husband's biological daughter, Serrano was floored.

"I was shocked," she said. "Straight away, my mind leapt back to that hair and it was as if things clicked into place. It was obvious what must have happened. The clinic had given me the wrong baby."

Her mind was flooded with questions about her real daughter and Manon's real parents. After three weeks, she worked up the nerve to tell Manon the truth.

"She cried and cried, she was petrified she was going to be taken away from me," Serrano said. "I tried to be strong and reassure her, but deep down I was scared too."

A few months later, the lawyer who had broken the news located Serrano's biological daughter and arranged for a meeting between the two families.

It was a magical moment when Serrano and her daughter embraced.

"In the event, it was incredibly moving," she said. "This girl looked just like me, she was beautiful, amazing. We fell into each others' arms, we hugged for a long time. It was incredible."

"But it was disturbing, too," she added.

After a series of meetings, the two families stopped seeing one another, and the idea of switching daughters was never brought up.

"In the end, the question of swapping back never came up," Serrano said. "I could tell they didn't want to either. Your child is the one you have shared your life with, after ten years you cannot give them up. And it wouldn't be right for the children to lose the parents they've had for ten years."

Both families, who the hospital attempted to blame for the mix up, decided to sue for gross negligence. It took 10 years, but Serrano emerged victorious when the court ruled in her favor and awarded her the small fortune.

Still, the damage had already been done. Serrano suffered from severe depression, while Manon became jaded and distrustful.

"[Manon] says she doesn't want to have children," Serrano said. "She's scared of what could happen to them. I hope, I'm sure, she'll fall in love and change her mind."

In the end, the unthinkable experience has only strengthened their bond.

"[S]he and I grew even closer, we're inseparable," she said. "I think when you risk losing the person you love, you [realize] just how much you love them."

Sources: Daily Mail, LittleThings / Photo Credit: Sophie Serrano via Daily Mail

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