THORNTON - A Thornton couple is suing North Suburban Medical Center over a baby mixup.
Donna Lisa Johnson says, the morning after she gave birth to a little girl last October 19th, a nurse brought her the wrong
baby to breastfeed.
The lawsuit, claiming medical negligence, loss of earnings, and loss of consortium, was filed in Denver District Court
on Tuesday. It asks for unspecified damages.
The suit alleges that Johnson had been able to successfully nurse her baby immediately after birth, and that "bonding between
mother and daughter had gone well."
But the following morning, after about ten minutes of attempting to nurse, Johnson says the baby wasn't able to latch on.
As Johnson changed her position in bed, the baby's cap moved and Johnson said she could see the baby's hair was dark brown,
unlike her baby, Emily, who was born bald. She removed the hat and saw it was not her baby.
"I froze. It was just, I was in shock. I couldn't even ring the bell for the nurse, like this can't be happening," Johnson
recalled in an interview at her lawyer's office Tuesday.
According to the lawsuit, Johnson began to cry loudly, and two nurses who responded were at first uncertain if this was
the Johnsons' baby.
One nurse said to the other "you messed up," said Johnson, and the first nurse began to cry hysterically.
They took the baby away, as Johnson screamed, "Where is my baby?"
About 20 minutes later, Johnson says nurses brought another baby to the room and told her it was hers, but Johnson wasn't
"I asked everybody who came into the room, 'who does she look like? Does she look like me?' Then I cried, because she didn't
look like me," she said.
When Johnson was discharged, she was still concerned as to whether she was bringing home the right baby. DNA testing later
confirmed the baby's identity, but the lawsuit claims Johnson has post-traumatic stress disorder, and is unable to return
to work because she is obsessed by the possibility that she may lose her baby. She is unable to take anti-depressants because
she is breastfeeding Emily, who is now nearly five months old.
Johnson, 41, and her husband, Nicholas, had been trying to have a baby for ten years. They talked to a doctor about fertility
treatments, but opted against it, saying they would leave the decision in God's hands. Johnson eventually was able to get
pregnant on her own in January of 2004. According to the suit, Johnson was surprised and elated by the news.
The loss of consortium claim alleges that because of his wife's trauma, Nic Johnson has been deprived of marital intimacy
with his wife.
"Everything revolves around the trust issue with her and we haven't gotten along very well because we're butting heads
constantly," said Nic Johnson. He said it's hard to persuade his wife to leave the house.
The couple said they are suing because they don't want other parents to go through what they've been through. The couple
believes the mistake may have happened because a nurse failed to read the wristbands on the baby and the mother correctly.
A spokesperson for North Suburban Medical Center was unable to comment on the lawsuit, but said the hospital does have
policies in place that, when followed correctly, ensure that babies are correctly matched with their mothers.