Newborn Given to Wrong Mom in Frightening Hospital Mix-Up

A Northern California dad is understandably upset after a Bay Area hospital mistakenly handed his preemie son to the wrong mom to cuddle and breastfeed. Carlos Urrutia is speaking out on the incident, because he wants to make sure hospitals understand the importance of double checking identities before handing babies over to the parents.


Carlos was over-the-moon excited when his partner Tenisha gave birth to their son Marcello at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley last May. The little guy was 44 days early, so he was whisked off to the NICU because his lungs weren't fully developed.

Even though he was early, Carlos described seeing his son for the first time as "amazing."

So he got the shock of his life the next day when he came back to see Tenisha and Marcello. He was escorted to a private area of the NICU, but when the nurse pulled back the curtain and said, "Mom's right here," he was faced with a strange woman holding and attempting to nurse his own son.

"I'm like, 'That's not mom.' I was like, 'Who is this?'" he said of his shock, continuing, "The lady is holding my son, skin-to-skin, with her breast near his face. So my first reaction is, I'm like, 'You're breastfeeding my child, he's not even a day old, I don't know you.'"

Immediately following the incident, Carlos wrote on the dry erase board in the NICU, "Make sure you check the bands! If the names aren't Carlos - Dad, or Tenisha - Mom, he's not yours. Don't touch my son. Love, the Father."

A spokesperson for the hospital said the mix-up happened because of "a misunderstanding because the surnames are similar," and they have since instituted "additional communication, monitoring, and auditing with all RNs on the hospital's identification policy."

I guess it goes to show how zonked out new moms are, since this woman didn't recognize that she wasn't holding her own baby. Or maybe her birth experience had been traumatic and that was the first time she was meeting "her" son. We don't know what happened, but we do know from this experience that hospitals cannot always rely on parents recognizing their own teeny newborns, for whatever reason.

Carlos discovered that the state doesn't require hospitals to report newborn mix-ups, which is why he's speaking out on his family's story. He said, "What I really want is basically for them to get a wake-up call to know that this isn't OK."

Would you be freaked out if your baby was handed to another mom at the hospital?


Image via Yves Merckx/Flickr

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