Chinese police say no evidence healthy and sick baby switch decades ago was deliberate after mother claims conspiracy by other family

Mandy Zuo
·3-min read

Authorities in central China have denied a mother’s accusations that her son was switched at birth with another boy 29 years ago as part of an elaborate plot by the other family.

Police in Henan province said early Wednesday they found no evidence of a deliberate switch of the babies. The case has gripped the nation for more than a year after Xu Min discovered she had raised someone else’s child, who turned out to have hepatitis B and had developed liver cancer.

Xu, who gave birth to a boy in Huaihe Hospital in Henan’s Kaifeng city in 1992, believed her healthy biological son was deliberately replaced with Yao Ce, her adoptive son who finally died a month ago, and requested a probe into Yao’s birth parents as well as hospital staff last month, local police said in a statement.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Switched at birth, Yao Ce and his son in Shanghai in June, 2020. Credit: Weibo
Switched at birth, Yao Ce and his son in Shanghai in June, 2020. Credit: Weibo

A month-long investigation has suggested it was a mistake by the hospital, which had poor management and irregular operations back in 1992, according to the statement.

The hospital used the same swaddling clothes for all newborns and only identified the babies with a label that had the mother’s bed number, instead of a wristband which is commonly used today, police found.

The label was attached to the swaddling instead of the baby’s body directly, it said.

Yao has made newspaper headlines since April last year after Xu learned that he was not her biological son following her attempt to donate her liver to save him from liver cancer.

Yao Ce died of liver cancer on March 23 in Beijing. Photo: Handout
Yao Ce died of liver cancer on March 23 in Beijing. Photo: Handout

In the hope of helping Yao with a liver transplant, Xu later managed to find Yao’s biological parents, Du Xinzhi and Guo Xikuan, with the help of local police in Henan. She also discovered that Huaihe Hospital had given her biological son, Guo Wei, to Yao’s birth parents as their own child.

However, she began to suspect it was a malicious swap after learning that Du was aware she had hepatitis B herself and that her baby could also be ill before and after the birth of Yao. She believed Du and her husband may have taken her healthy baby to avoid raising a sick one, according to her previous posts on social media including Weibo and Douyin.

On the other side, Yao and his birth parents had denied Xu’s guesses and in the meantime sought financial compensation from the hospital for their mistake.

They brought the case to court after negotiation with the hospital failed late last year.

Liver cancer patient switched at birth in critical condition as he waits on appeal against compensation ruling

In December, Gulou District People’s Court in Kaifeng, Henan, ordered Huaihe Hospital to pay compensation of more than 760,000 yuan (US$116,000) to Yao and his biological parents for its medical irregularities.

The compensation was increased to 1 million yuan, including a sum for the family’s mental anguish, with the remaining for medical expenses and incidental costs, by the Kaifeng Intermediate People’s Court in February after the family made an appeal.

Yao died on March 23 in a hospital in Beijing.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article Chinese police say no evidence healthy and sick baby switch decades ago was deliberate after mother claims conspiracy by other family first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.