Switched at birth: Son born to rich parents sues hospital after life of poverty

TOKYO — A Japanese man born to
wealthy parents has been awarded
about $371,000 in damages after
accidentally being switched with
another baby and spending decades
living in poverty.
It was almost 60 years before a DNA
test revealed the life-changing mistake
by a hospital worker who had bathed
the newborns and returned them to
the wrong mothers.
The men spent decades living each
others' lives: one man living off welfare
checks before working as a truck
driver, the other enjoying a private
education and now running his own
real-estate business.
"I feel ... regret and also anger," the
poverty-stricken man, who has
withheld his identity, told a press
conference on Wednesday. "I want
them to turn back the clock."
While being filmed from the neck down
to protect his requested anonymity,
the 60-year-old said: "I heard that I
was being sought after because of a
mix-up. When I heard that, my initial
feeling was, 'Is such a thing possible?' I
didn't think it was possible that a
hospital could make such a mistake."
Tokyo's San-Ikukai Hospital was on
Tuesday ordered by a court to pay the
man 38 million yen ($371,233) in
damages, significantly less than the
250 million yen ($2.5 million) he had
been seeking.
Instead of the life of affluence for
which he was destined, the man lived
off welfare checks and grew up in a
small apartment which had no
electrical appliances. His given mother
raised him and two siblings after their
father died when he was two.
The other baby grew up as the eldest
of four siblings in a well-off family. He
received private tutoring and went to
university.
The error was uncovered in 2009 after
the wealthy family realized one of the
four brothers did not share their
likeness and requested a DNA test.
After they found out they were not
related they searched hospital records
and eventually found their true
brother in 2011.
The man who grew up in poverty
never knew his real parents.
"When I found out about my true
parents, I wish I was brought up by
them," he said. "That's the truth. When
I was handed the photograph of my
[real] parents, it made me want to see
them. Every time I see their
photograph, for several months tears
would well up."
According to Britain's Telegraph
newspaper, Judge Masatoshi Miyasaka
told the court that it was "impossible
to assess the scale of the pain and
disappointment both the parents and
the man had to suffer, as they were
deprived of opportunities to enjoy
their parent-child relationship
forever."
The impoverished man now goes out to
drinks with his "real" brothers once a
month, while taking care of the elder
brother with whom he grew up.