Babies switched at birth 42 years ago

By    March 15, 2016 | 05:40 am PT
A woman in Hanoi has found out through DNA testing that she raised another couple's daughter. It's likely the babies were mixed up at the hospital 42 years earlier. 

Nguyen Mai Hanh says she had a strange feeling when she was handed her newborn daughter on October 10, 1974 at the maternity center of Ba Dinh district in Hanoi.

She immediately noticed the identification number on the identity tag around her daughter’s ankle read 32 while the one on her wrist was 33. The new mother insisted back then she had been given the wrong baby after the nurses returned from bathing her newborn. But her concerns were brushed off, with the doctor explaining the water had blurred the number on the tag. Hanh went home with her infant and named her Ta Thi Thu Trang.


Nguyen Mai Hanh and Ta Thi Thu Trang, the daughter switched at birth

Trang is the third child in the family and has two sisters and one older brother. She doesn’t exactly look like her siblings. She has a longer face and is taller in stature. Consequently, relatives and neighbors started casting doubt about her mother’s fidelity.

When Trang turned 20, Hanh and her husband secretly did a DNA test only to find out that Trang was not biologically related to either of them. It seemed the couple didn’t want to accept the hard truth, so they chose not to believe the results and blamed a lack accuracy in the relatively new technology at the time.

Six months ago, Hanh and her husband decided to give the DNA test another try. Her odd feeling all those years ago was justified, as the results confirmed Trang was not their biological daughter.

Last year on Trang’s 41st birthday, her life was turned upside down. She remembers the moment her mother decided to tell her the truth.

“My mother cried saying to me, ‘I am sorry for hiding the truth from you. I was so scared that I could lose you. Now you’re a mother, you’re able to understand. Please help me find my daughter’.”

Thu Van, Trang’s 45-year-old sister, was stunned when she learned the truth from her mother, but she was also aware that rumors of a possible mix-up had been around for years.

“It did not shock me too much because our neighbors have been gossiping for a long time,” said Thu Van, explaining the only thing she was worried about was that her mother was not strong enough to handle the situation.

“Trang has a strong personality, the toughest one in the family,” added Thu Van, showing little doubt about how her sister would deal with things. “Nothing has changed. Trang is still our sister and my mother’s daughter. There is no distance between us.”


Ta Thi Thu Trang and her elder sister Ta Thi Thu Van

The family has returned to the district maternity center where the babies were switched years ago with the hope they can find the other family.

“My mother remembers on the day she gave birth, there were only about 10 other women in labor, all of them were residents living in Ba Dinh district. There is a good chance that my [biological] sister is living near here. It is just the right time has yet to come for us to meet her," said Thu Van.

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