An elderly Japanese man who was given to the wrong parents at birth has successfully sued a hospital because he was raised in poverty instead of in a life of luxury.
The 60-year-old man, who is keeping his identity secret, said he wishes he could ‘roll back the clock’ after learning that his real parents were wealthy and that his true brothers enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.
Instead, the man was raised by his non-biological mother, who was also struggling to support her other children following the death of her husband.
The baby she came away with by mistake from the hospital 60 years ago grew up through a life of welfare hardship and became an unmarried truck driver.
Now a Tokyo district court has ordered the hospital to pay £250,000 in damages for its 1953 error, which saw the man switched with another baby boy who came into the world just 13 minutes later.
When he eventually learned that he could have grown up wealthy the grown man said the questions started flowing.
‘I’ve wondered “how on earth could this happen?” I couldn’t believe it. To be honest I didn’t want to accept it,’ he told a crowded news conference in Tokyo.
‘I might have had a different life. I want the hospital to roll back the clock to the day I was born.’
If he’d been handed to the right mother after his birth, he would have grown up as the eldest of four brothers in a wealthy family, enjoying a relative life of luxury including having private tutors.
In contrast, he grew up in a no-frills one-room apartment, the only ‘luxury’ item being a radio and as for his education the man studied at night school while working in a factory.
Of the woman he had grown up to call mother, he said: ‘It was like she was born to experience hardship.’
For him, it was not easy either. In later years he has been helping to take care of his non-biological brothers, one of whom has suffered a stroke,.
The decades-old mistake was realised when the wealthy family’s three younger brothers had DNA testing done on their oldest sibling – who looked nothing like them – after their parents died.
Then they set out checking hospital records before confirming the identity of their biological eldest brother last year.
All four brothers – including the one who should have had a more lowly upbringing due to the accidental switch – have now formed a bond and are working on rebuilding the lost years.