Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Families of two daughters swapped at birth 20 years ago seek compensation from French hospital


It's a plotline you would expect to see in a film or novel. But sadly it's entirely true. Two families are currently battling a maternity clinic in Cannes where their newborn baby daughters were mistakenly swapped and returned to the wrong mother, 20 years ago.

The incident took place in July 1994, where the two newborns were placed in the same cot at the hospital because they were both being treated for jaundice. They were then returned by staff to the wrong parents and the mistake only emerged seven years later. 

The mistake was revealed when the girls were 10, after the father of one daughter, Manon Serrano, 20, (pictured above right) accused mother Sophie, 38, (pictured above left) of being unfaithful as Manon had darker skin. He demanded a paternity test (after leaving the family when Manon was three years old), which revealed he was not the young girl's father and that Sophie was not the mother.

The Cannes clinic found in its records that Manon had been placed in the same cot as another baby girl to be treated for jaundice. The other family - who live 20 miles away from the Serranos and have asked not to be identified - was traced and their DNA tests confirmed the mistake.

Both families are in court in Grasse this week who are suing for €12m (£9.4m), including €2m (£1.57m) for each daughter. They say the insurance companies of the maternity clinic (now defunct) and heath staff involved should pay exemplary damages for their two decades of emotional suffering.

However, neither of the parents want to swap daughters and both women do not want to leave the families they had always known.

new born babies

“In 10 years, we have never had the slightest apology from [the clinic and its staff], let alone an admission of responsibility,” Sophie said. “Quite the opposite: they have always insisted that it was our fault.”

Lawyers representing the clinic and the insurance company blame the two mothers, saying they should have recognised their own daughters.

Sophie says she did complain at the time that her baby appeared darker-skinned and had longer hair, but she said the nurses insisted that the ultra-violet treatment was responsible. 

When the mistake was realised 10 years ago, the two families got in touch and met each other. They continued to meet for over a year but eventually drifted apart.

“It was disturbing and very bizarre,” said Manon. “You are confronted with a woman who is your biological mother but who is a complete stranger.”

Sophie said that meeting her real daughter for the first time was “a moment of joy and a moment of great sadness”.

“I was delighted to see that my biological daughter was loved and thriving,” she continued. “And yet I knew that I could not take her away with me. The other mother had the same sense of being torn in two... Of course, I would have loved to have had some kind of mother-daughter relationship with her but that is precisely what was stolen from me.”

The verdict of the trial is expected in February.



Lily Allen reveals she suffered from PTSD following son's stillbirth

She was attacked online trolls shortly after the admission

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

Watch the hilarious 2017 Oscars edition of Celebrity Mean Tweets

“Go f**k yourself, Ryan Gosling”

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

Emma Stone has her say on that awkward La La Land mix up

“I don’t mean to start stuff, but…”

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

The best non-romantic couples at the 2017 Oscars

From friends, to mums, to siblings

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

Why ‘The Salesman’ speech was one of the most important of the Oscars

Iranian-American Anouseh Ansari delivered a powerful critique of Trump’s travel ban on behalf of director Asghar Farhadi.

by Moya Crockett
27 Feb 2017

Jennifer Aniston tears up as she remembers lost friends at the Oscars

“All were loved, and all will be missed”

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

Viola Davis’ empowering speech completely stole the show at the Oscars

She’s the first black actor to win an Oscar, Emmy, and a Tony

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

The best behind-the-scenes Instagrams from the Oscars 2017

Pre-party pampering, post-win celebrations and obligatory bathroom selfies

by Moya Crockett
27 Feb 2017

Emma Stone uses Oscars 2017 dress to make powerful feminist statement

The Best Actress winner decided it was time to get political on the red carpet

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Feb 2017

Helen Mirren on lacking confidence and self-esteem

“I thought I looked stupid when I smiled”

by Amy Swales
24 Feb 2017