The case of the exchanged babies frays nerves, raises questions

Jan and Jaroslava Čermák with their biological daughter Nikola (right) and Veronika, photo: CTK

It is a saga that has dragged on for almost two years - a pair of babies from Brno were accidentally exchanged at birth and given to the wrong parents. The mistake was discovered only a year later when the father of one of the children went for a paternity test, which revealed that neither the mother nor the father were the biological parents of their baby. Now the families are in court suing the hospital involved in the mix up, testifying for the first time this week. The families are each seeking 6 million crowns in compensation in what is proving to be a very challenging case.

Jan and Jaroslava Čermák with their biological daughter Nikola  (right) and Veronika,  photo: CTK
For anyone who may have thought that the return of a pair of babies to their correct parents a year on from the mix-up would be a happy ending to an unfortunate saga, think again. For the Čermáková and Broža-Trojanová families, the situation is far from rosy. A year on from an exchange which put right a terrible blunder, they are facing another problem. Here is the biological mother of baby Veronika, Jaroslava Trojanová speaking to the press:

“If it was down to me, then I would rather keep Nikola.”

And here is the biological mother of baby Nikola, Jaroslava Čermáková:

“Right now, I have to say that I have greater feelings for the baby that isn’t mine. Before the swap, my husband and I had a great marriage. We were able to deal with any problem openly but now we are at the point where any attempts at dealing with things just leads to arguments and everything that we had built up between us has been lost.”

Libor Broža and Jaroslava Trojanová with Nikola,  photo: CTK
Thus, despite both parents having their correct biological babies for almost a year, it appears that the initial bonds formed after birth between them and their non-biological mistakenly-switched-babies are proving difficult to shed. Both parents have discussed their apparent difficulties in parting with what they view as their babies and allowing seeming strange babies into their lives. And add to that the apparent marital difficulties caused to the couples by the whole affair.

Both sets of parents have already received 100,000 crowns in compensation from the regional authorities. The hospital involved, which has sacked several of the staff involved in the mix-up is offering a further 600,000 crowns – the families want ten-times that. Last week, the trial began to deal with the issue of compensation for the first time, and its ultimate ruling - the first of its kind in the country – is expected to set a precedent.

Yet, there is another flip side to this story. Some critics of the families have accused them of playing both to the courts and to the cameras – in essence exaggerating their distress in the hopes of gaining a large “American-style” financial settlement. The case has been adjourned until October 6.