Austrian hospital fined €90,000 over baby mix-up in 1990

Woman still does not know who biological parents are as second individual unidentified

University Hospital Graz cast doubt on whether the mix-up happened there

University Hospital Graz cast doubt on whether the mix-up happened there


An Austrian hospital has been ordered to pay €90,000 in damages for mixing up two babies nearly 30 years ago, even though one remains unidentified.

Doris Gruenwald, who was born in 1990, only found out after a routine blood test when she was 22 that she was not biologically related to the couple she thought were her parents.

“My whole body started shaking... It was like the ground under my feet disappeared,” she said.

“Of course it was a huge shock for me and my daughter,” Evelin Gruenwald, who raised Doris as her own, told the Krone daily in 2016.

“But we knew from the start that nothing could separate us, that we would stay mother and daughter. This child is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

The clinic, University Hospital Graz, however cast doubt on whether the mix-up happened there, suggesting it may have taken place later and somewhere else.

But the court rejected this, ruling that the mix-up happened in the 20 hours between the birth and the mother, recovering from a caesarean section, being given the child.

Ruling there was “gross negligence”, it awarded damages of €30,000 each for Doris and Evelin Gruenwald plus her husband, as well as the costs from the couple adopting her.

Doris Gruenwald still does not know who her biological parents are, while the other victim is unaware that she was brought up by the wrong people.

This is despite the hospital having last year launched a programme offering free DNA tests to the 200 women born in the hospital around the same time and their mothers.

So far, only about 30 women have taken advantage of the tests and no matches have been found.

The local health authority said it planned to appeal against the ruling, saying that the court had failed to establish that the babies were mixed up at the hospital.