Erroneous switch, failure to vaccinate son, who has cancer, factor into ruling
A hospital in Henan province was ordered by a court to pay more than 760,000 yuan ($116,400) in compensation to a couple after mistakenly giving them the wrong baby 28 years ago, and it also should take some responsibility for their biological child's illness.
The order was made by the Gulou District People's Court in Kaifeng, Henan, in a ruling issued on Monday.
The ruling stated that the Huaihe Hospital of Henan University made a big mistake while caring for newborns in 1992 and had some irregularities in its hepatitis B vaccinations at that time.
The court demanded the hospital pay 400,000 yuan for the family's mental anguish over the separation from their biological child as well as more than 360,000 yuan to cover medical and other expenses incurred by Yao Ce, the couple's 28-year-old son who was diagnosed with hepatitis B at the age of 2 and end-stage liver cancer in February.
Zhou Zhaocheng, the family's lawyer, said after the ruling that his clients accepted the result, even though the amount of compensation was not as much as they sought.
"It's good to see the court supported us, identifying the hospital's work error that caused Yao to be switched with another boy at birth 28 years ago," Zhou said.
"Meanwhile, we felt we got justice when the court also ruled that the hospital should be 60 percent liable for Yao's liver cancer due to its previous vaccination mistake."
Considering Yao's physical condition and economic burden, the lawyer added he will help him apply for a procedure that would release the compensation more quickly.
"If so, my client can get parts of the compensation in a timely manner to ensure his medical treatment, regardless of whether the hospital decides to appeal to a higher court," he explained.
A hospital official told Beijing News on Monday that the hospital would accept and respect the ruling.
The case triggered widespread attention in April when Beijing News reported that a woman surnamed Xu, from Jiangxi province, found out that Yao, the person she had been raising for 28 years, was not her biological child, when she tried to donate her liver to save the cancer-stricken man.
Given that Yao's condition was getting worse, Xu, with her husband, talked to the newspaper about her quest to find Yao's biological parents in the hope that the couple could help him with a liver transplant.
Xu went to the hospital in Henan where she gave birth and discovered the hospital mistakenly gave her the wrong baby in June 1992.
With the aid of local police, she found out who Yao's biological parents were-Guo Xikuan and Du Xinzhi-and learned about her biological son, an auxiliary police officer in Henan.
But the joy of the reunion was quickly diluted by reality.
Guo and Du have a daughter with a mental illness, and Du-Yao's biological mother, who is also a hepatitis B carrier-was undergoing chemotherapy due to liver cancer.
Because Du is a carrier, Yao was supposed to be given a high-dosage hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth, but the vaccine was incorrectly administered to Xu's healthy son instead.
Xu said she believes the fact that Yao didn't get that vaccination led to his liver cancer at such a young age, according to a report of China Global Television Network in April.
Yao and his biological parents negotiated the compensation amount with the hospital at first but filed a lawsuit after negotiations failed.
The court heard the case in September.