Two Sets Of Twins Got Swapped In The Hospital, Then They Discovered The Mistake Decades Later

Two Sets Of Twins Got Swapped In The Hospital, Then They Discovered The Mistake Decades Later

William and Wilber Cañas Velasco grew up thinking they were fraternal twins. They lived in the countryside, never knowing what the capital city of Bogotá was like. But in those distant city blocks were two boys a lot like them. It would take over a decade and a half for the boys to meet, and for the hopsital’s grave error to finally be exposed. No one’s life would be the same after.

Not the same story

We’ve all heard the story of twins being separated at birth. The Parent Trap, anyone? But this is the story of two sets of twins who got mistakenly paired with the wrong siblings. It took a perfect set of coincidences for the error to happen — and to be noticed years later.

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Not quite mirror image

In the city, Carlos Alberto and Jorge Enrique Bernal Castro also thought they were fraternal twins…even though their faces and frames took on totally different shapes as they got older. They would have brushed off this fact for their entire lives had a friend not pointed something out to them.

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The grocery store

In the summer of 2013, Janeth Páez was at a grocery store in northern Bogata — a store where her good friend William worked behind the counter. As a matter of fact, Janeth saw him there all the time.

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Employee discount

Besides just saying hello, Janeth wanted to ask him for a discount on her order. He was cutting up beef and pigs’ feet when she came up to him, hoping to get a sweet deal on some ribs. And she wasn’t the only one at the counter

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Mistaken identity

Janeth’s friend Laura had tagged along with her. She also thought she recognized the man behind the counter, as a work colleague of hers at an engineering firm. This coincidence seemed weird, so Laura spoke up.

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No reaction

Laura casually waved hello to “Jorge,” thinking there would surely be a reasonable excuse for him to be there. But to her surprise, he barely seemed to acknowledge her. He didn’t even respond when Laura called out his name. Janeth was confused too.

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That’s Jorge!

‘‘That’s Jorge!’’ she told Janeth. ‘‘He works in my office.’’ But Janeth disagreed with her friend and pointed out that William had worked at the grocery store for a long time. Obviously, something wasn’t right!

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‘‘No, it’s Jorge — I know him,’’ Laura clapped back. But something still wasn’t adding up. If that was Jorge, why wouldn’t he wave or smile back at her? However, he did react to Janeth’s presence.

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Hug of truth

Finally, the man behind the counter went in for a hug, and Janeth was on the receiving end of it. Janeth promptly turned to Laura and introduced him as William. This was nuts; Laura couldn’t help but think her friend was masquerading as a butcher.

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Back and forth

Janeth firmly told Laura she must be mistaken, but Laura kept at it. The whole thing was just too uncanny! Everything from his bone structure to his height and build looked exactly like her coworker! The experience stuck with her long after she left that supermarket.

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Can’t ignore it

When the mix-up became too dramatic to carry on, Laura dropped the issue. Maybe it was just a freak rarity. But the next workday would come, and she planned on approaching Jorge.

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Getting closer

Jorge’s immediate response was to laugh. But Laura wasn’t too far off: he did have a twin brother named Carlos, but they didn’t look the same. That’s because they were fraternal, or so he thought. Jorge wasn’t able to believe the truth, but luckily more clues would keep popping up.

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Janeth understands

Some time later, Janeth started working alongside Laura at the engineering company. When she came across Jorge, she finally understood what Laura’s fuss was about. Things were about to change forever.

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Shrugged off

Janeth didn’t feel close enough to Jorge to approach him directly. She did manage to show William at the butcher’s shop a photo of his doppelgänger. But in an anticlimactic move, he just shrugged it off! 

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Biting the bullet

Janeth ended up leaving the firm without breaking the news, but six months later she texted Laura an image of William, which she then showed to Jorge. He was freaked.

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That’s Me!

‘‘That’s me!’’ Jorge said, staring at the image. He stopped doing work and talked to Laura about what was going on. She spilled everything she knew, and the dominoes began to fall.

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Truth set free

Soon all four of the brothers knew what had befallen them. At the time of their birth, a hospital nurse accidentally switched one baby for another, mixing up two identical twin sets. With that revelation, it easily could have turned into a highly uncomfortable situation for the brothers.

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Instead, they young men all bonded right away. Rather than act like two sets of siblings, they became four brothers who were all part of the same family. William, Wilber, Carlos, and Jorge started spending all their time together, and the wider world took notice.

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A shared future

The ordinary guys became international celebrities. People ate up their incredible story — but the brothers knew it would take years to accept the error that kept them apart. However, their story wasn’t nearly as complicated as that of Bobby Shafran and his brother Eddy. The young men discovered far more than just a simple mistake at the hospital had stolen years of connection from them.

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Strange welcome

See, just like the bewildered sets of twins, 19-year-olds Bobby and Eddy had no they were actually missing out on a family connection who lived only miles away. That is, until they arrived on the SUNY Sullivan college campus, where people kept calling him by each other’s names.

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Dramatic meeting

One day, Bobby and Eddy decided to meet. To make the reveal more dramatic, they decided to wear identical clothing and, without others fully knowing who was who, one stood outside the other’s dorm waiting for the door to open.

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One more step

A door separated Bobby and Eddy. The two had never seen each other before, but they were told by their campus friends “you have a twin”. Whether their friends were being literal or not, the two 19-year-olds would find out with a swing of the door.

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Like a mirror

It came as a shock for the both of them. Rather than there being another person, it was like a mirror was standing in front of them. This would be the start of Bobby and Eddy’s time in the spotlight, but they didn’t see all the twists and turns that lay ahead.

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In the papers

The rumors were true: Bobby and Eddy were identical. Since each knew he was adopted, they drew the conclusion that they were long-lost brothers. Their picture was shared in newspapers, and the story reached far enough to reach another 19-year-old, thanks to his adoptive mother.

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Reunited trio

Ms. Kellman saw her adoptive son David’s likeness in the boys. She shared the astounding photograph of Bobby and Eddy with him. After making contact with them, David reunited with his brothers. The news of the triplets spread like wildfire, and Bobby, Eddy, and David found fame they never could imagine.

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Pop trio

Bobby, Eddy, and David took the world of pop culture by storm, appearing as a guest on talk shows like the Phil Donahue show and even making a cameo appearance alongside Madonna in the film Desperately Seeking Susan. The world was shocked with how similar they were, and not just in looks.

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The triplets grew up in drastically different environments, each living with a family from a different economic class: blue-collar, middle-class and wealthy. Even so, there was so much the three of them had in common. Their mannerisms, personalities, even down to what they liked, including their tastes in women. Still, something wasn’t right.

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Making it

The trio enjoyed a great relationship as siblings. They even moved into an apartment together and opened the now famous SoHo Steakhouse “Triplets.” That success came with a price, however. As their fame grew, trusting each other became more difficult, and there was still the question of why were they separated in the first place.

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Media disappointment

It seemed like anyone approaching the triplets wanted to profit off their story. They were made promises by the media, that were soon broken as soon as their story broke. On top of that, the brothers were struggling with mental health.

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Struggling together

The bond between Bobby, Eddy, and David began to suffer as time went on. They started to recognize their differences, but stuck together as best as they could. Nothing could prepare them for the many curveballs that were to come.

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An end and a beginning

The trio’s decline began in 1995. Around that time, the adoptive parents of the three were finding the truth behind Bobby, Eddy, and David’s adoption. And one sibling, in particular, felt increasingly overwhelmed by his inner demons.

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Grief and truth

Eddy took his own life that year. While the family, both related and adopted, grieved over their loss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright published an article that revealed the disturbing truth of why the triplets were separated, and how it has happened to others.

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Topic discussion

Lawrence Wright’s article uncovered a disturbing psychological study. The researchers involved sought to learn more about the concept of “nature versus nurture,” which is a big debate when talking about children. The three brothers’ future was sacrificed to find an answer.

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Stop for morality

What is more powerful in shaping a human being? Is it our biology passed down from the previous generation (nature), or is it the environment and circumstance that we grow up in (nurture)? Dr. Peter Neubauer, of the Child Development Center, would stop at nothing to find out.

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An observed lie

Dr. Neubauer and his associates hoped to see how different or similar the children would be if they were separated — and never knew of their siblings. Throughout the boys’ childhood, a physician would often come to observe them. The adoptive parents were led to believe that the visits were merely to track the adoptive children’s progress.

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Coping with truth

After reading the article that Lawrence Wright had shared with the world, Bobby and David were beyond furious. They felt used. Even with happy families of their own, there was still a hole in their hearts from all the pain they endured. It was a bad time for a sudden movie deal.

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A decision to make

British filmmaker Tim Wardle was fascinated by the triplets’ story, and hope to make a documentary with Bobby and David’s support and blessing. The two brothers were suspicious of Wardle, as they had learned to be with anyone approaching them. The filmmaker completely understood their hesitation and worked with them while they took their time in deciding.

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A chance to speak

After four years of convincing them, Wardle finally brought Bobby and David on board to share their story. They didn’t care at all for the money, they just wanted the chance to tell the world what really happened, uncensored and unabridged.

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Leap of faith

While there were concerns about sensationalizing the story to make it sell, Bobby and David took a leap of faith and made the documentary. It became a booming success at the Sundance Film Festival, where Bobby and David began to find peace.

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Healing together

After watching the film’s premiere at Sundance, Bobby and David felt like they could start to move on. The audience’s hushed reaction meant a lot to the brothers, and they even had many strangers walk up to them and offer them an apology and a hug.

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Love and family

In the end, the two brothers found peace. They returned to their families, but would never allow them to be separated again. While they can’t forget the difficult times, they can move forward and focus on love and family. There was no point in fixating on getting revenge.

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