Baby Switch at Minneapolis Hospital Results in Baby Being Breastfed by Wrong Mother

by in Parenting


As new parents, we trust the hospital to deliver our babies and help keep them safe and healthy until it’s time to go home. One Minneapolis mother had her trust shattered after hospital staff placed her baby into the wrong bassinet in the nursery, after which he was delivered to the wrong mother and breastfed. Because of the mix-up, Tammy Van Dyke’s little boy, Cody, will need to undergo a year of medical testing for HIV and hepatitis.

“You put your baby in the nursery, not even 48-hours old, and you think they’re safe, Tammy told ABC News. “I’m holding it together. I’m just in disbelief, and it was like I was in a dream, a bad dream, and I couldn’t get it to stop.”

Tammy was told by hospital staff that the switch happened just hours before she was supposed to take her son home. Right after the switch, Cody received blood testing for HIV and hepatitis. While those initial tests came out clear, the hospital staff at Abbot Northwestern Hospital said that her son will need to continue testing every three months for the next year.

“It was horrible,” Tammy said. “Two nurses had to go in through veins in his tiny little arms.”

Gloria O’Connell says that the continued testing is being done as “a precaution,” but no other comments have been made about the mix-up by the hospital because of patient confidentiality.

Tammy says she was able to calm down a little after being able to speak with the mother who had accidentally breastfed Cody, especially after she learned that the hospital had difficulty in locating the other mom’s baby, Liam. According to Tammy, it took the staff another 20 minutes to locate Liam.

“It gave me peace of mind to talk to her,” Tammy said. “She was just as distraught as me that this happened to her, and in the meantime, also didn’t know where her baby was. She had twins.”

But despite her “peace of mind,” Tammy said that Cody’s homecoming fell short of her expectations.

“I imagined getting up and getting ready and having Cody in the car with his brother and coming home as a happy family,” Tammy, who also has a 2-year-old, said. “We were going to videotape the homecoming, showing his room, and I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t put myself together, because it wasn’t what I had imagined all this time.”

To try and make up for the mistake, the hospital staff gave Tammy an apology letter and offered to pay for all of Cody’s testing over the next year.

“Please accept this letter with our sincerest apologies for what occurred today at the hospital, that in the nursery, your newborn son was placed in the wrong bassinette and then was taken to the wrong mother and breastfed,” the statement said. “The hospital agrees to pay for the additional testing that you had done today and will also pay for the tests recommended for your son related to this incident up to one year.”

Abbott Northwestern’s practicing obstetrician and Chief Clinical Officer of Allina Health, Dr. Penny Wheeler, also released an official statement in a press release.

“As an obstetrician, I have personally seen verification of the infant’s identifying name band matched correctly with the mother’s on hundreds of occasions. It is extremely unfortunate that was not the case this time,” Dr. Wheeler said. “We sincerely apologize to the involved families and will make certain we understand why our procedures were not appropriately followed in this case.”

While Tammy didn’t comment on the apology, she says she just wants the entire thing to be over.

“I will be thankful to God when this year’s over and he’s cleared all his health tests and we don’t have to think about this again,” she said.

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About the Author

Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done. Find out more about Kate’s books at authorkategivans.com.

Comments (3)

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  1. Lauren says:

    A couple thoughts about this story.

    A. Wouldn’t the hospital have to be notified if a pregnant mom was HIV positive? Before I had my son it was one of the tests that the OB did in one of the blood workups. They are testing him as a precaution, but the likelyhood is very low that the breastfeeding mom passed this through her milk.

    B. The transmission of Hepatitis through breastmilk is very rare.

    C. I watched the video from your photo credit and Tammy is bottle feeding her baby. So maybe this little mix up was the best thing that could happen to this little guy. He was able to get the colostrum he was never going to get!

  2. Katie says:

    This story has been sensationalized. Yes, it sucks that another mom breastfed your baby, but seriously. It’s not like she took him home.

  3. Kim Alrie says:

    Risk or not – this should have never happened. You should never have to worry about whether or not you will be taking home the right baby. Having a baby is stressful enough without adding on the hospital’s irresponsibility.

    The baby should never leave your side. At our hospital my daughter stayed with me the whole time.

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