Arnold Perry had thought his new son looked just like him. When his family couldn’t see the resemblance, it was the first indication that something was amiss.

As WCHS News reports, Arnold and Crystal Perry had welcomed son Dawson in early June at Logan Regional Medical Center in Logan, West Virginia. Dawson is Crystal’s fourth child, but her first with Arnold.

Screenshot/WCHS

And the proud papa is happy to show off his son. As Arnold told WCHS:

“He’s got my fingers, toes, nose. He’s got all my features. He’s a handsome boy, I tell ya.”

Crystal’s mother had traveled from South Carolina to visit her 2-day-old grandson. The grandmother and other family members present were eager to hold Dawson. Crystal told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that things became confused when Arnold went to the hospital’s nursery to get his son:

“He went to the nursery and there [Dawson’s] basket was, laying in the same spot it had been. It said ‘Perry’ on the card, but nothing else was filled out on the card. Not the height, not the weight, it just said Perry.”

Crystal added that the nurse assured Arnold that — despite being labeled with a different room number — this was their child:

He noticed on the card it said number five, and our baby had been in number four … He told the nurse, ‘Why is he in a baby cart that says number five?’ She said, ‘Oh that’s fine, that’s your baby.’ He thought it was because all he saw was his blonde hair. She just walked over there with a Sharpie marker and crossed off [Room] 205 and wrote 204.

For the next two hours, family members cuddled the newborn and took photos of him. Crystal and Arnold wanted their family to have time with Dawson, so they didn’t hold the baby. However, Arnold started to wonder why no one agreed that his son looked just like him. He told WCHS:

“They’re over there saying how he doesn’t have none of my features, and his eyes are blue when they were brown yesterday … So we’re like, ‘Aw man, he looks like me, I can’t believe you don’t think he looks like me.'”

Still wondering about the confusion over his son’s eye color, Arnold opened a drawer and prepared to feed his son. But inside were an assortment of onesies and other supplies he didn’t recognize.

Before he could seek out hospital staff to ask about the supplies, a nurse walked in the room. A check of the ID bracelets on the mom and baby confirmed their had been a mix-up, and the nurse soon returned with the real Dawson Perry.

Arnold told WCHS that chaos erupted as the family realized the child they’d been snuggling and taking pictures of wasn’t theirs:

“So everybody’s jaw hit the floor, people’s crying, people’s mad, just all kinds of mixed emotions, and it was just one terrible accident that could’ve been a tragedy.”

In the hospital room next to Crystal and Arnold was Heather Perry, whose son, Colton, was born just one day after Dawson. Heather had gone looking for her son and found him missing from the nursery. She told WCHS she was upset to learn that her son had spent nearly two hours with the wrong family:

“I didn’t know he was in there long enough and to hold, take pictures, videos and everything else … When [the hospital staff] brought him back, they had marked out my room number on his card and put theirs.”

Both families acknowledge this was an honest mistake. But they find it disturbing that it was so easy to mix up the babies. Crystal told the Gazette-Mail that the incident underlines the importance of checking both mom’s and baby’s ID bracelet every time:

“I’ve had three other kids. Anytime I’ve been in the hospital, any single time that they bring your baby in, a nurse brings them in and they ask you to read your armband. Then, they check the baby’s armband, which is usually on their foot. That never happened one single time.”

The hospital has apologized to both families, who are relieved that the situation wasn’t worse. As Arnold told WCHS:

“One little sharpie marker incident that she done, I could have lost my kid to another family. That little mistake could have been a big tragedy, you know.”

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