It happened on Friday: Yossi, 32, and Hadar, 32, a couple of Ethiopian decent, came to the Rabin Medical Center for the delivery of their third child. At 4:35 pm, their baby boy was born weighing 7 pounds and 48 ounces. Still blurry from the epidural, the mother gave her son a first hug, and about 15 minutes later allowed the nurse to take him to the neonatal ward.
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A short while later, the blissful parents moved to the recovery room. At 7:30 pm Yossi found he could not wait any longer and went to see his baby. Entering the maternity ward, he noticed he was lying in a crib, and asked if he could take him to his mother she could nurse him, but was refused; the nurses told him the baby was ill, and would have to undergo several tests before the two can see him again.
Yossi said he was pacing down the hallway, occasionally checking on his wife, when he saw a man frantically screaming and yelling. "I didn't make much of it," he said, "until the nurse came up to me and said: 'What are you doing here? Go be with your baby.'" That was the moment he knew something was wrong.
He ran with the nurse into his wife's room, where Hadar was resting comfortably, nursing a baby. Except, he knew at once, it wasn't his baby. Yossi was shocked. "I kept screaming, 'That's not our baby!' When the man from the hall rushed in and screamed the exact opposite: 'That's my son!' I couldn't believe it was happening." Yosi's wife was also in disbelief.
A quick search resulted in a horrific discovery: Somewhere between the delivery room and the maternity ward, someone had given Hadar a baby who was born on the same day to an Eritrean couple. This was the direct result of human error: Someone at the ward mistakenly switched prams.
"A terrible feeling." Yosi and His Son (Photo Credit: Tzivka Tishler)
"It's just a terrible feeling," Yossi said. "I feel overwhelmed and my wife is simply in shock. She's incredibly hurt by this. The Eritrean father told us his wife had nursed a baby twice or three times that day—and he couldn't even tell me if it was his son or mine."
Yossi, Hadar and the baby were discharged from the hospital on Sunday. Along with their discharge letter, they requested a detailed explanation about the tragic error, an explanation no one had bothered to relay to them any sooner.
Only then did ward directors make the time to sit with them and provide reasoning for their behavior. Yossi and Hadar asked for documentation proving the misplacement, but were denied. "We were incredibly offended by their behavior," Yossi said.
Blood tests for the mothersFollowing the dreadful slip-up, both mothers underwent blood tests to rule out any infectious diseases they could have erroneously given the babies; both newborns will soon have to do the same. The hospital presented Yossi with medical documentation giving the Eritrean mother a clean bill of health: "It only served to make me more nervous," he said, "because their panic is telling. I can't pretend I'm not worried and constantly wondering why it happened to us."
This Friday, in the best Jewish tradition, Yossi and Hadar will celebrate their son's bris. The new parents are praying for their son to receive medical clearance.
The hospital said in response, "We deeply regret this incident. It was the result of a human error by a member of staff who acted in violation of our working orders. The subject is under thorough investigation." It was further stated the mothers' blood tests were found to be in order and that further steps will be taken towards the staff member at fault.
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