Sunday 4 December 2016

Heartbroken couple reunited with baby after claims son was swapped and sold to traffickers

Andrew Marszal

Published 07/09/2015 | 13:15

Mercedes Casanellas with husband Richard Cushworth and their son - who is believed to be the child swapped for their biological son Credit: Facebook
Mercedes Casanellas with husband Richard Cushworth and their son - who is believed to be the child swapped for their biological son Credit: Facebook

A dad and his wife who claimed that their baby was swapped for another shortly after birth in a private hospital in El Salvador have been reunited with their lost son.

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Richard Cushworth, 41, and his Salvadoran wife Mercedes Casanellas, were reunited with their son after DNA testing confirmed their suspicions that the child had been swapped.

Late on Monday, the country's Attorney General's Office said it had located the couple's real son after calling the parents of four other boys born on the same day at the same hospital in for DNA testing.

Attorney general Luis Martinez said the babies of two couples had been accidentally mixed up.

"We have returned the babies to their legitimate parents. We hope that this has not happened on other occasions," he said.

"'We understand the painful drama of these two families. We are talking about two children who were swapped."

Mercedes Casanellas and what is believed to be a photo of their biological son
Mercedes Casanellas and what is believed to be a photo of their biological son

Mr Martinez said that a review of private and public hospitals' protocols would take place.

The couple's lawyer also said the case was "apparently" an accident, according to MailOnline.

The couple had left the private hospital with a newborn three months ago, but made a public appeal after a DNA test revealed the boy was unlikely to be their biological son.

The couple's doctor, Alejandro Guidos, was arrested and formally accused of exchanging their child for another as he slept, but protested his innocence after being bailed.

Ms Casanellas, 39, told reporters she initially 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 in May. In particular, she thought the second youngster 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.

The pair made a public appeal on local TV, saying they feared their son may have been sold to traffickers.

Ms Casanellas told the Daily Mail: "This is every mother's nightmare. I didn't even get to hold my biological son before he was taken from me. As soon as I saw the other boy, I said: 'That's not my child.'

"I do not know what to do. We are hoping it's a mistake but every day that looks less likely."

Mr Cushworth, originally from Bradford, West Yorkshire, told the paper: "Someone took my child and I have no idea where he is, who is taking care of him. Is he in the country? It's awful."

Dr Guidos was quoted by Elsalvador.com as saying: "I feel calm, did not have to prove anything. I'm innocent."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are in regular contact with the Cushworth family to provide support.

"A full investigation has been launched by local police and we will provide all the assistance that we can."

Telegraph.co.uk

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