Swapped babies returned to German parents after seven months

22nd January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Two 7-month-old girls who were accidentally switched in a German neo-natal ward have been returned to their correct parents in Germany, one of the fathers, Ralf Klos, 36, said.

Saarlouis, Germany (dpa) - Two 7-month-old girls who were accidentally switched in a German neo-natal ward have been returned to their correct parents in Germany, one of the fathers, Ralf Klos, 36, said Monday.

"It was a very emotional experience," said mother Jeannine Klos, 34, after she had spent the weekend with a young mother, ending Sunday with a farewell to the baby she had once thought was her own.

The switch was discovered last month, when the Kloses saw their missing baby, Lina, for the first time again. The exchange was delayed so that all involved could be psychologically prepared.

The other mother, described by unconfirmed newspaper reports as a schoolgirl, declined to meet the media. Reports say her boyfriend had been forced to take the paternity test which brought the case to light.

The St Elisabeth Hospital in Saarlouis, a small city on the French border, faces a lawsuit and has not explained how the swap happened. Experts are studying whether the babies' identifying wristbands could have slipped off.

Jeannine Klos said she had always had a feeling the baby she was nursing was not quite right: "I once walked around the neo-natal ward and I saw another baby that looked more as if it were my own child."

But she said no one had believed her. Doctors and nurses told her babies changed their appearance rapidly in the first few days.

Klos said she bore no grudge against the hospital although the couple is seeking compensation.

"I felt at home there. Mistakes just happen," she said.

The Kloses were reported at one point to have contemplated bringing up both girls, but this did not come about.

Jeannine Klos said the parents had agreed to meet regularly so they could keep contact with the two changelings.

"The emotional bond will remain. For 7 months, it was as if that little girl was my own child," she said.

Hellgard Rauh, a psychologist in Potsdam near Berlin, predicted there would be no mental damage to the daughters. At half a year, babies could quickly adapt to new adults and forget where they had been previously.

She said experience with older children who were adopted showed that some of them did suffer terrible separation anxiety, which could become a lifelong source of behaviour aberrations.

"But in this case, it was probably more upsetting for the parents than for the babies," she said. She praised the wait, saying it ensured that the changeover was not too abrupt.

Rauh said the parents would study their restored babies to discover resemblances to themselves and this would lay the natural basis for love.

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