The story of two little girls who were exchanged at birth in a hospital mix-up and ended-up living with strangers has shocked the nation and evoked a wave of public sympathy for both sets of parents. On Thursday the two families met face to face for the first time as did the two little girls whose lives have become firmly intertwined.
Little Nicole and Veronica were both born on December 9th of 2006 at Trebic hospital. But they only spent a few minutes with their real parents. After their mothers had cuddled them and their fathers had admired them they were taken off to be cleaned up, swathed and placed in cots in the baby ward. How the mix up happened is still not clear but from then on each child grew up with strangers. It was baby Nicole's parents who discovered the swap - going through weeks of agony in the process. Nicole's father found it strange that the child showed no family likeness and suspected his wife of cheating on him. He had a DNA test done secretly. When the result came through he challenged his wife about it and she asked for a test as well. This test found no DNA match between mother and child. The news was a huge shock and Libor and Jaroslava demanded that the hospital trace their real child. The hospital did - testing four sets of parents who'd all had baby girls born to them on that day. On Thursday the two families whose babies had been swapped met face to face - and saw their real daughters. It was an emotionally charged afternoon for all of them. Libor and Jaroslava whose DNA tests revealed the mix-up were torn between joy and sadness.
Libor: "Our daughter looks so like me that I don't need any DNA tests to know she is mine" - you can tell at first glance."
Jaroslava: "Of course we are happy but on the other hand we also feel terrible."
Both sets of parents agreed to swap their daughters before their first birthday on December 9th. In the meantime they plan to visit every day so that they can all get used to one another. They are also going on holiday together before the swap - a holiday that the hospital has paid for. However it will have to pay a lot more for what appears to be a case of gross negligence on the part of hospital staff. Despite identification bracelets for mum and baby and identification numbers written in semi-permanent ink directly on the baby's skin the mix-up happened and the matter is now being investigated. Both sets of parents are determined to take the matter to court and are asking for ten million crowns in compensation - a million for each month spent without their own child. The next few months will not be easy for either the baby girls or their parents who want to stay in touch so as not to lose sight entirely of the child they loved and cared for as their own. The fate of the little girls has evoked great sympathy and left many Czechs wondering just how often this sort of thing happens without anyone ever finding out.