A Mother's Nightmare: Babies Switched at Birth

New mother Kassie Hopkins had an eerie feeling when she was handed her newborn son after his March 28 birth at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion, Ill.

Elsewhere in the hospital Mary Jo Bathon, who also had given birth to a son March 28, had a similar feeling. Still she went home the same day with her infant, caring for him and breast-feeding him — even stopping for baby supplies on her drive home.

But within hours, Bathon's odd feelings were justified when she received a telephone call from the hospital saying it had sent her home with the wrong baby. She didn't have her son, Hunter Allen Bathon. She had 17-year-old Hopkins' newborn son, Riley Howard Spencer.

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The switch apparently happened when the boys were taken at the same time to get circumcisions. Riley and Hunter wore identification, but somehow the IDs were removed and inadvertently put on the wrong baby, according to the women's attorney John Womick.

"We genuinely regret the circumstances surrounding the discharge of these infants. Fortunately, the situation was quickly identified and corrected within hours," said hospital spokeswoman Staci Bynum.

But the hospital's apology wasn't enough for the mothers. Hopkins and Bathon have sued Heartland Regional Medical Center and its parent company, Community Health Systems Inc., of Franklin, Tenn.

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The women have asked for monetary damages of more than $50,000 a piece and a jury trial in a Williamson County court.

"I think it's outrageous," Womick said. "If they aren't careful with babies, then what are they careful with?"

Womick said he wants the court to require the hospital to investigate what led to the switch to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"I think they need to look at the system, admit what happened and correct it," Womick said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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