El Salvador

A British man has claimed that his newborn child was swapped by a staff at an exclusive private hospital in El Salvador in order to be sold to human traffickers.

Richard Cushworth and his wife Mercedes Casanellas welcomed a son at a hospital in San Salvador in May this year, but say they immediately suspected that something was wrong.

The couple, who live in Dallas, Texas, have since had a DNA test and found that the child handed to them by hospital staff is not related to either of them.

Mr Cushworth and his wife had travelled to the capital San Salvador in order for Ms Casanellas to give birth in her home country. Ms Casanellas says she noticed that the child that the staff claimed was hers had a darker skin colour than she remembered at birth, but she was told that she was mistaken.

The couple now fear their light-skinned baby was snatched deliberately by a staff at the Ginecologico private hospital to sell to child traffickers.

In an emotional interview with a local TV station, a teary Ms Casanellas said:

‘We haven’t been able to sleep thinking about where he is, and who has him.

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Mr Cushworth, who met Ms Casanellas when he worked as a missionary in El Salvador, added: ‘

‘We just want them to give us our son back. It’s a horrible situation. I have a child and I don’t know where he is. ‘Someone took my child and I have no idea where he is, who is taking care of him, what has happened to him. Is he in the country? It’s awful. ‘I sometimes try not to think about this because it is so frightening.’

Ms Casanella’s obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr Alejandra Guidos, who the couple accuse of masterminding the plot, was arrested on Thursday, according to their family’s lawyer Francisco Meneses.

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Ms Casanellas said that, from the fifth month of her pregnancy, she remembered how Dr Guidos would repeatedly tell her that her child would be dark-skinned, even though the father is white.

She said:

‘I always thought that was strange. How would he know that from the ultra-sound scans, and why would he keep saying it?”I was very stressed at first because the baby took a while to start breathing, but then I held him and remember thinking that he looked like my husband. ‘He was very white and had similar features. I remember seeing his genitals and thinking that they were white and pinkish.’But then the anaesthetist came and told me that I was very nervous and that they were going to give me something to put me to sleep. After that I don’t remember anything, until I woke up the next morning.’Around 8am, they started to bring the babies to their mothers, and I waited for mine. But when I took him I saw that he was very different to the one I had held in the delivery room. When I changed his clothes I noticed that his genitals were very dark and not rosy like how I’d remembered. ‘I said to the nurse, ‘look, his genitals are very dark’, and she told me, ‘no, that’s normal, that’s normal”.

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Ms Casanellas said photos she took of her baby son soon after the birth prove that the baby was white-skinned. Despite the doubts, the couple took the baby back home to Dallas, Texas, but over the coming months family and friends also noticed the child’s darker colour and lack of resemblance with his parents.

Ms Casanellas said:

‘I just want him to give me my baby back. I want to know that my child hasn’t been trafficked or any other crime committed against him. I need my baby, I’m just asking for my baby.’ She said of the baby swapped with theirs

‘If they can’t find his mother, he already has parents, us. We are taking care of him and, even though we know he isn’t our biological son, we still love him.’

The baby was three months old when the couple finally found to courage to take a DNA test, which showed he has a 0.00 per cent probability of being their son.

The country’s Attorney General has now ordered a criminal investigation into the baby’s disappearance amid claims a trafficking gang, led by Dr Guido, has been operating inside the hospital.


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