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French Families Whose Daughters Were Swapped At Birth Win $2 Million Payout

The mix-up was only discovered when the girls were 10 years old, but the families made the difficult decision not to switch them back.

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Two French families whose daughters were mistakenly switched at birth over 20 years ago were awarded $2.1 million in damages on Tuesday.

Sophie Serrano gave birth to a baby girl on July 4, 1994, at a private clinic in Cannes, but the infant was suffering from jaundice and was placed in an incubator along with another girl born the next day.

A nursing assistant accidentally switched the babies on July 8, but both mothers expressed doubts that they were given the correct child because of their different skin tones and the length of their hair. The hospital assured them that the incubator's lamps were to blame for their changed appearance.

It was only when Manon Serrano was 10 that her family ordered a DNA test out of concern she did not resemble her father. The test revealed Manon was not the biological daughter of either parent.

Upon tracking down the other family, originally from the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, the girls were able to meet their biological parents for the first time.

Speaking to reporters in December 2014, Manon described the meeting as "pretty disturbing."

"You find yourself in front of a woman who is biologically your mother but who is a stranger," she said, according to Le Monde.

The other family chose not to speak publicly.

Despite clarifying the mix-up, the two families decided not to swap the girls back.

Last year, the two families took the clinic and its insurance provider to court seeking more than $13.5 million in damages, which Le Monde noted was an exceptionally high figure in the French courts.

The court in Grasse, near Nice, on Tuesday ordered the clinic to make a payment "in reparation for the damage resulting in breach of its obligation," according to Le Monde.

The girls will each receive more than $450,000, while their parents will receive $340,000, the BBC reported. The girls' three siblings will also receive more than $70,000 each.

A lawyer told the BBC the families would not appeal the decision, and were "relieved that the court had recognized the clinic was responsible."

Sophie Serrano told reporters in December the families have since distanced themselves from each other.

"It was too difficult, so we each went our separate ways as it's so distressing," she said. "It was the only way to find some stability again."

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

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