Mother says newborn wrongfully taken into foster care after hospital mix-up
Every parent's worst nightmare.
A first-time mother in the US has claimed she was victim to a devastating mix-up that saw her newborn daughter wrongfully placed into foster care.
Heather Smith says a hospital in Zanesville, Ohio, misidentified her as another patient who had tested positive for high levels of narcotics. She has yet to be reunited with her daughter, who she named Sage, despite giving birth on June 15.
Nurses told her at the time that hospital lab tests showed she had both meth and fentanyl in her system.
The 32-year-old vehemently denied this as she says she has never been a drug user, but was shocked to find hospital staff didn't believe her. The newborn also had no traces of drugs in her system, and was said to have been healthy.
"Just the powder of that stuff, if it gets on your skin, it's lethal," she told Columbus-based TV station WSYX this week. "To have that in my system and my baby not, there is no chance.
"The cord blood from the placenta came back clean. Wouldn't she be having a lot of withdrawal symptoms? Wouldn't she be sick?
"For me, to supposedly have these drugs in my system, please, please prove that to me under my date of birth. Prove it to me under my name, my registration number."
The day after giving birth, she was sent home without her baby girl and informed the newborn would be handed over to the state to be placed in foster care.
When she was first admitted, Smith had noticed her hospital bracelet had the wrong information on it. She says she told nurses that she was not who the bracelet identified her as, and that a nurse took the ID, scanned it and gave it back to her.
"She should have cut that bracelet off," says Smith, who now believes the mistake was never actually rectified.
Even more devastatingly, the new mother actually had no idea she was pregnant when she was admitted to hospital as doctors had previously told her she would never have biological children. She suffers with severe endometriosis and had initially mistook the labour pains as appendicitis.
After years of trying to come to terms with the likelihood that she would never carry a child to term, giving birth to baby Sage was a welcome surprise to herself and her partner.
"I shouldn't have had a child at all and she is just the biggest surprise of my life," she said. "So I want her home. If you need my left arm, I will give it to you. Whatever it takes to get her home, I will give it to you."
She feels the newborn is a miracle that has been snatched away from her.
"For me not even to have the chance to feed her yet, not even feed her yet has just completely thrown my world upside down," she continued. "All I want is my child home with me in my arms. Please let me be the mom I always wanted to be."