Few things are more horrifying and traumatic in this world than the delivery of a stillborn child. The thought of it, especially now that I have a daughter of my own, is unfathomable. It is impossible not to get teary-eyed and sick to the stomach every time these awful, awful stories makes headlines. Why does the world have to be so unfair? To go through pregnancy, to love the little being inside of you -- and then to have it end so tragically is nothing short of being one of the worst things in the entire world. But imagine not only going through this gut-wrenching ordeal, but then laying your poor, little baby to rest -- and learning that, due to a mistake in the medical examiner's office, you buried the wrong baby?
That's exactly what happened to Justyna and Rafal Sliwa of Brooklyn. When the couple went for a sonogram five months into their pregnancy, they learned that their baby had no heartbeat. Doctors, unfortunately, had to induce Justyna into delivering the baby. The 22-year-old made it clear that she wanted her child's remains sent to her native Poland so she could hold a service. She also wanted to know the baby's gender, and asked to receive a copy of the footprints.
Despite never receiving footprints or gender confirmation, Justyna and Rafal held a service for the baby they named Angel in Brooklyn in June. Three days later, they had a small funeral in Poland. A few weeks after that, though, they got a call from the medical examiner's office informing them that the child they buried wasn't theirs.
A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said that the babies had "strikingly similar names," and issued the following statement: "[This] is a tragic, unfortunate error we have to make right. The city will be taking all steps we can to make sure the correct baby is buried in the correct place."
Justyna and Rafal are, obviously, devastated. They've since filed a $5 million notice of claim, which is the first step in filing a lawsuit.
Of course, I hope that Justyna and Rafal win any kind of legal battle they get involved with, but I think it goes without saying that that will only do so much. No amount of money can ever bring back their little baby, or right this inexcusable mistake that was made.
How unbelievably tragic is this?
Image via Der_Krampus/Flickr