Baby Girls Switched at Birth: Truth Comes Out 56 Years Later

May 12, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Two 56-year old grandmothers, Kay Rene Reed Qualls and DeeAnn Angell Shafer, recently had their lives turned upside down when they discovered they were not biologically related to the brothers and sisters they grew up with their whole lives.

The two women, born in 1953 at Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Oregon, were mistakenly switched at birth, when the nurses bathed the two bald, 6 pound babies, somehow mixing them up in the bathwater and returned the babies to the wrong mothers.

Both women grew up in loving families, raised their own families and became proud grandmothers. Life was good. However, everything changed one day when an 86-year old woman residing in a nursing home, phoned Kay Rene’s brother, Bobby Reed asking to see him, because she had something to get off her chest. The unidentified woman, perhaps nearing the end of her life, had her memories to keep her company, but one particular memory gnawed at her.

When Bobby met with the woman in the nursing home, she told Bobby her tale. She was a friend of Bobby’s mother, Donalda Reed and once was a neighbor of Marjorie Angell. She said that after Marjorie Angell came home with her new baby girl, DeeAnn, she confided in the woman that she believed the nurses gave her the wrong baby.

When the nurses returned after bathing her baby, she knew right away the baby wasn’t hers, but the nurses wouldn’t listen. Donalda Reed was medicated at the time and didn’t notice the switch. The woman kept repeating to Bobby like a mantra, “Kay Rene is not a Reed, DeeAnn is a Reed.”

Bobby reeling from the news, kept it to himself for a while, and then repeated the strange tale to his older sisters, who finally told Kay Rene. The Reed siblings and the Angell siblings contacted one another and as it turns out, both families recalled tales of a baby switch, but it was never taken seriously.

Finally, DeeAnn’s sister, Juanita phoned DeeAnn with the story of the mixed up babies. The families got together and decided to have DNA testing to resolve the issue. Since both sets of parents were deceased, Bobby Reed, Kay Rene, DeeAnn and one of Kay’s sisters were swabbed for their DNA and waited.

A week later both women received the official results proving they were not biologically related to the people they grew up with. The results meant that the elderly woman’s words in the nursing home were indeed correct, “Kay Rene is not a Reed, DeeAnn is a Reed.”

After the initial shock, both families have come together and have become close. Kay Rene refers to DeeAnn as her sister.

As for the hospital mix up, Pioneer Memorial Hospital paid for the DNA testing and offered the families counseling, which they declined. Fifty years ago, there was no such thing as DNA testing and hospitals were less stringent in identifying babies to prevent mix ups.

Victor Vander Does, the current hospital administrator was unable to locate records going back that far and couldn’t locate the nurses working at the hospital over 50-years ago.

Kay Rene cried when she found out she really wasn’t a true Reed, but has since decided to be happy and not think about all the “what ifs.” DeeAnn, knew the moment she laid eyes on Kay Rene, that the tale of the babies switched at birth was true, because Kay Rene was the spitting image of her sister, Kay Rene’s biological sister.

Kay Rene and DeeAnn celebrated their birthday together on May 3 and life goes on, they now just have a much larger extended family than they thought.



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