Newborn babies in hospital nursery
Cribs for newborn babies are seen through an window at a nursery in a hospital [Representational Image] REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Files

A couple who were given the wrong baby by a hospital have finally returned to the US with their biological son, who is now a year old. A British man, Richard Cushworth, and his Salvadoran wife, Mercedes Casanellas, were reunited with their child in September 2015, but had to wait in the Central American country for nearly nine months to obtain the birth certificate for their son Moses.

The couple had to prove through a DNA test that the child they were taking care of in the initial three months was not theirs.

Speaking to the BBC, the couple said they still do not know how their baby got swapped. Casanellas gave birth to the boy in San Salvador on 21 May, and the next day she was handed a different baby to take home with her from the hospital nursery.

Recounting her experience of handling a wrong baby, an emotional Casanellas told Radio 4: "The thought that the baby I had been nursing, taken care of, loving him, bathing him – that he was not mine. And then I had another thought which came with it – where's my baby?

"So I had two thoughts – what's going to happen with this baby, and where's my baby."

The legal battle in bringing their rightful son to the US with them has cost them a fortune, the couple told the broadcaster.

Cushworth, originally from Bradford, said: "I just accepted it as my child. Now I look back the pictures around the time we came to Dallas when he was three months old, and I'm shocked that I never suspected, because you can see that it's just obviously not my child if you look at some of the pictures.

"I don't know how I didn't ask myself. You just don't think about these things. Who thinks about these things?"

Although Casanellas had doubts about the child she received at the hospital, she noticed that the baby did not resemble either of the parents only after the couple returned to their home in Dallas, Texas. Upon taking a DNA test, she "just fell to the floor" when the result showed 0% chance that she was the mother of the baby they had brought home.

Cushworth said he "felt a panic that my only child was lost or stolen, I didn't know".

The UK ambassador to El Salvador Bernhard Garside helped in the legal process of swapping the child and in getting the birth certificate for Moses.

However, he said switching the babies had been the easier part in the otherwise lengthier court hearing, as police "could not conclusively identify either of the babies and say they were the right babies but had been swapped". Footprints, similar to taking fingerprints for identity proof, taken during the birth of both the children were not convincing enough for the police to conclude the case.

"I asked the judge in this case to consider the evidence given through DNA, which she did take into account and it played a crucial part," he told the BBC.

The charges against the hospital gynaecologist who delivered the baby have already been dropped as no criminal element was involved in the case, but a simple mistake.

The other child has also been returned to his legal parents now.