Swapped baby: hunt widens to children's home

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am

Boy was put up for adoption

The search for the biological parents of a 31-year-old man who was swapped at birth - and for the baby with whom he was swapped - widened yesterday from the hospital in question to a children's home where he lived for a month after his birth.

The Hospital Authority and the Social Welfare Department issued appeals yesterday for people to come forward with information and for DNA testing in a bid to solve the baby mix-up involving Kelvin Li Kwok-yin, whose birthday is recorded as November 30, 1976, and birthplace as Tsan Yuk Hospital, Sai Ying Pun.

The department appealed for any men admitted to its Chuk Yuen Children's Reception Centre in December 1976 as newborns to come forward. This was because Mr Li's mother had decided to give him up for adoption and he lived there in December. She changed her mind and took him back after a month.

The department issued yesterday's appeal after Mr Li urged it to investigate the possibility of his being swapped at the centre, but it insisted such a swap was extremely unlikely because the centre never had many newborn babies at any one time.

The department said it had discovered a file bearing Mr Li's English name was opened at the centre on December 15, 1976, but the file was destroyed following the centre's closure in 2003. All that was left was the child's English name, the file reference number and its opening date.

The Hospital Authority's appeal yesterday was for women who had babies at Tsan Yuk Hospital from November 28 to December 14, 1976 - and males born there during that period - to come forward for DNA tests.

People who met the criteria should call Poon Kai-tik of the corporate communications department on 2300 6781 before April 30. The authority said it would also send letters to about 180 women next month it thought might be able to help.

Mr Li discovered late last year he had been swapped when his sister realised his blood type meant he could not possibly be his mother's son. He has since been lobbying the authority and department to help him solve the riddle of his birth.

Meanwhile, a gynaecologist who practised at the hospital in 1976 said he believed the mix-up was an isolated case because the hospital was well staffed at the time and had stringent measures to identify babies.

'I recall there were nearly 6,000 babies born in a year when I practised during that time,' Wong Tin-son said. 'But we had sufficient manpower to cope with the high demand.'

Dr Wong started as an intern at the hospital in 1975 and stayed for another two years before moving to Queen Mary Hospital. He eventually moved into private practice in 1984.

He said the hospital had stringent measures for the identification of babies after birth, and therefore he believed the mix-up with Mr Li was probably a one-off case.

After each baby was born, a tape would be put around its legs, he said, while the mothers would also have a tape on their wrist for identification.

'Technically it would not be easy to [mix up babies] and I believe it is an isolated case,' he said.