A British man and his wife, who feared their baby had been swapped at birth and sold to human traffickers in El Salvador, have been reunited with their son, after authorities tracked down the child by ordering other new mothers to have their babies DNA-tested.
Richard Cushworth, 41, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, and his Salvadoran wife, Mercedes Casanellas, suspected that a doctor at the hospital where she gave birth exchanged their child for another as Casanellas slept.
After attending a special court hearing before a judge, the couple were told that their biological baby had been identified, and then the swapped babies were handed back to their respective families, according to news website, www.Elsalvador.com.
Attorney general, Luis Martinez, told reporters: “We have returned the babies to their legitimate parents. We hope that this has not happened on other occasions.” Mr Martinez said there would be a review of private and public hospitals’ protocols.
The couple’s doctor, Alejandro Guidos, was arrested, but had protested his innocence after being bailed. Prosecutor Dinora Siguenza reportedly alleged that Dr Guidos was responsible for not following correct procedures and is still being investigated.
The couple left the Gynaecological Hospital Centre, in the country’s capital San Salvador, with the newborn, but made a public appeal on local TV three months on, after a DNA test revealed the boy was unlikely to be their biological son.
Ms Casanellas, 39, became suspicious when she noticed the features of her newborn differed from those of the boy doctors handed her the day after she gave birth by emergency Caesarean, in May. She thought the second baby had darker skin. She took the child to the couple’s home in Dallas, Texas, but the pair, both missionaries working in El Salvador, returned to the Central American country after family members also expressed doubts.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “A full investigation has been launched by local police and we will provide all the assistance that we can.”
Mr Cushworth’s father, David, said: “We’re all absolutely thrilled All the circumstantial evidence pointed to a criminal act, but the official story we are being told appears to show it was a mistake, a mix-up.
“I can’t say for sure what really happened. We’ll have to see how it works out through the legal system, before we can be certain.
“I feel for the other family. We know nothing about them, except that they only just found out that their baby isn’t really theirs. At least we suspected there was something wrong. It seems like they had no idea. Or if they suspected something, they didn’t want to say.”
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