Parents given wrong babies after birth

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The Independent Online

Nikola and Veronika were born on 9 December last year, delighting two sets of parents who brought home what they thought were their bundles of joy.

Now, 10 months later, Czech authorities are investigating what officials at a hospital in the country say was a frightful mistake: The girls – somehow swapped at birth – wound up with the wrong families.

As police looked into the case at a clinic in Trebic, the infants' parents were meeting to discuss how best to return the babies to their rightful homes.

The hospital said yesterday that it was co-operating with police and that it was about to wrap up its own internal investigation into what it called a "regrettable case".

Hospital director Petr Mayer apologised to the parents and offered them help in solving the problem.

The apparently accidental mix-up came to light earlier this year when Nikola's father, Libor Broza, became suspicious because his daughter did not resemble him. He had his DNA tested. The results: He could not have fathered Nikola.

Mr Broza's partner, Jaroslava Trojanova, had a maternity test, and her results also were negative.

The other couple, Jan Cermak and his wife, Jaroslava Cermakova, also had paternity and maternity tests, and the results should be known next week.

Both couples, who met last week for the first time and were introduced to each other's girls, have agreed to swap their daughters before the end of the year.

"Of course, we are happy, but on the other hand, we also feel terrible," Ms Trojanova said.

Health Minister Tomas Julinek said he could not rule out the possibility that similar mix-ups have happened in the past. In an interview this week, he said that Nikola's and Veronika's parents should be compensated.

The couples reportedly plan to take legal action against the hospital. Yesterday, the families met to swap stories about the girls, including what they like to eat, what illnesses they've had and what their favourite fairy tales are.

"The main reason for the meeting is to get the families ready for the exchange and learn more about each other," said Olga Hinkova, a psychologist who is helping the couples through the transition.