Europe

The Dutch men, 60, swapped at birth

Martino Kerremans and Jan Koevoets at the former Ignatius Hospital
Image caption Martino Kerremans and Jan Koevoets at the former Ignatius Hospital

Two Dutch men mistakenly swapped at birth 60 years ago have met after discovering the error.

Martino Kerremans and Jan Koevoets were born in Breda in February 1953 - one day apart - at the Ignatius hospital and given back to the wrong mothers.

The mix-up was only discovered after Mr Kerremans, whose mother joked that she had brought home the wrong baby, underwent a DNA test after her death.

It revealed that his DNA was different to that of his two sisters.

A campaign to find his real family was then taken up by the regional broadcasting station Omroep Brabant.

On seeing a picture of Mr Kerremans, Antoon Koevoets, saw a similarity in his looks with himself while his brother, Jan, bore no resemblance.

He then persuaded Jan to undergo a DNA test.

"I can barely believe it," said Mr Kerremans. "First you come to the frightening discovery that your parents have not been your real parents all these years. And, you also find your biological family. Incredible."

Jan Koevoets, said he was pleased that Anneke, the woman he had always believed to be his mother, was spared the news because she had recently died.

"This is something, I'm sure, she would not have wanted to experience. There can be nothing worse for a parent than your child being given to another," he said.

"Usually I try to laugh everything away. But this is hard for me. Deep down inside, I would have much preferred that this had not happened. I had rather that Martino had not gone looking for [his real family]."

'The milkman's'

Mr Koevoets admitted that his lack of resemblance to other family members had always been a matter for comment and even jokes.

"I always made the joke that I was probably the milkman's," he said. "I wish I could still joke but I cannot deny it any more with this result."

"I'm confused, I have another biological family. But my old family is my family."

The hospital, which now operates under a different name, has apologised for the mistake that took place 60 years ago.

"Unfortunately, we cannot undo what happened in the maternity ward in early February 1953," said a spokesman. "It is and remains a very sad story."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites