Imagine this: You’ve just given birth to a baby girl who is suffering from jaundice. The newborn is put in an incubator alongside other sick babies. Ten years later, you discover the baby you got back from the incubator was not your biological child.
This was the bizarre reality for two families, whose two babies were inexplicably switched at birth thanks to an error made by a nurse at the maternity hospital.
Sophie Serrano had her suspicions about the daughter she raised. She remembered questioning the hospital staff about her daughter's sudden change in complexion. The staff attributed the baby's darker skin to effects caused by the lamps in the incubators.
Suspicion grew as Sophie’s daughter, Manon, was often teased in her neighborhood for being the “postman’s daughter” due to the apparent lack of resemblance to her father.
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When Manon turned 10 years old, her father decided to get a paternity test, and the results were shocking to say the least. The test proved that neither Sophie nor her husband were Manon’s biological parents.
To make the story even more bizarre, it turns out that Sophie’s actual biological daughter, who was named Melanie, lived no more than 20 miles away. Further inquiry confirmed that the two now 20-year-old girls had indeed been given to the wrong parents, and both families are now suing the hospital for nearly $15 million.
“They took my innocence away,” Manon Serrano told Nice-Matin newspaper. “They took away my dreams, my hopes, my desire to have children.”
The two families arranged a meeting but agreed it would be best not to have the girls reunited with their biological parents.
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“I don’t see my biological daughter anymore,” Sophie said. “The social, educational and cultural differences (between both families), added to the pain of our unconscious rivalry, took their toll on relations.”
Sophie did say that although she officially has three children, in her heart, she has four.
While the family pressed charges as soon as they discovered the error, the case was originally dismissed because it had occurred over a decade prior, making a formal investigation very difficult.
Now, 20 years later, the families are pursuing a civil suit, asking for nearly $15 million in compensation. While the Cannes clinic admits to its mistake, it blamed the incident on the nursing auxiliary, who they claimed suffered from alcoholism. They also added that they will not pay for any damages.