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Swapped at birth

The newborns who got mixed up

Three Lions/Getty Images

When Craig Avery started working at a factory a few years ago in remote Newfoundland, he noticed how a colleague, Clar Hynes, resembled his brother Clifford. But it wasn’t until Craig discovered that he and Clar had both been born on December 8, 1962, at the same local cottage hospital, that a possibility gripped him: had they been swapped at birth? Clar, dark and handsome, looked like several of Craig’s family, and the fair Craig had the set and look of Clar’s father. DNA tests confirmed it: each had been raised in the other’s biological family.

But how, asks Lindsay Jones in Atavist Magazine. Their parents were all dead, and apparently never knew the truth. Only when the story hit the news did others emerge with disturbing tales of the Come by Chance cottage hospital. One woman noticed, while returning home, that her new son had a pointier nose than before. Another heard her newborn’s distinctive cry across the ward: he was in the arms of another mother. These infants were restored to their biological parents. How many were not?

Come by Chance hospital was often swamped with newborns. A caretaker helped deliver them at times, and when nurses ran out of bassinets, they were put in milk crates. In the chaos, the mislabelling of infants was common. Rather than malice, it seems Craig and Clar’s lives were upended by negligence – for which the pair, now good friends, are suing the Newfoundland government.

Read the full story here.