Two women mistakenly switched at birth due to a hospital error and were raised as sisters tell their incredible journey.
According to Western Journal, Caterina Alagna and Melissa Fodera from Mazara del Vallo in Sicily, Italy, experienced this when they were born 15 minutes apart on Dec. 31, 1998, shortly before midnight.
During the New Year’s Eve celebrations, the on-duty nurses accidentally switched out the two babies and gave a different child to the mothers.
At that time, Marinella and Gisella both wondered why the infants were not dressed in the clothes they’d brought when it came time for them to go home, but the hospital staff told them it was only a wardrobe confusion.
When the two children were three years old, Marinella Alagna, 51, was picking up her daughter Melissa from nursery school when she saw the startling resemblance between one of the other children, Caterina, and her other two daughters.
“I recognized Caterina’s mother, Gisella Fodera, from the maternity ward and got suspicious—15 days later we did DNA tests and my mind went blank. It was too surreal, too impossible,” Marinella told the Times UK, according to Today UK News.
After doing a DNA test, the families discovered the truth, but their biological mothers Marinella and Gisella Fodera, 47, decided to raise them together because so much time had passed.
The mothers were initially opposed to the concept of returning the children, with Gisella emphasizing how difficult it is to raise a daughter for three years only to be asked to return her.
“I challenge anyone to raise a daughter for three years then give her up over a simple mistake,” Gisella told Today UK News.
So they came up with an unusual solution: both families would live together, allowing them to be with both the children they’d raised and their biological children.
“The girls effectively grew up with four parents and eight grandparents, and the experiment worked,” Mauro Caporiccio, author of the film “Sisters Forever,” said, according to The Times UK.
“They chose to live together during the weekends and free time. And the girls were classmates until college.”
Caterina Alagna and Melissa Fodera, now both 23, did not find out they were swapped at birth until they were eight years old and old enough to understand the situation.
Melissa said she had no memories of her childhood before the age of three and that Marinella has always been a “second mother” to her.
The story will be featured in Mauro Caporiccio’s book Sisters Forever and a film produced by RAI TV in Italy, which will air later this week.