Twins separated at birth are reunited after 35 years

Twins separated at birth are reunited after 35 years by bizarre twist of fate at Russian cafe… bringing joy for them but heartache for sister whose family are now strangers to her

  • Galina Shilov gave birth to twin daughters in the Russian city of Perm in 1982
  • She took one girl – Uliyana – home but the second twin was too weak to leave 
  • A mix up at the hospital meant she was later given someone else’s child – Yana 
  • Yana and Uliyana look completely different and do not have similar interests
  • Galina’s unsuspecting biological daughter Ksenia grew up with Yana’s mother and brother and in an orphanage, but was spotted this year by a friend of Uliyana

Twin girls separated by a hospital blunder 35 years ago have found each other by chance – but the discovery has brought deep heartache as well as joy.

Uliyana was raised by her real parents in a loving family of teachers in the Russian city of Perm.

Her blood sister Ksenia was given to the wrong mother, a woman who was stripped of her rights to raise children.

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Twins Ksenia (L) and Uliyana, who were separated at the hospital where they were born in 1982 and grew up apart 

Uliyana (L) grew up with her biological parents while Ksenia spent most of her childhood in an orphanage 

So at the age of four the Soviet authorities moved Ksenia to a grim orphanage.

Meanwhile, their blood mother was given another girl to raise – called Yana – who belonged to Elena Azanova, now 62, the woman who had taken home Ksenia.

The appalling mistake went unnoticed for 35 years, and then was uncovered by pure chance.

A friend of Uliyana’s saw her in Perm – or thought she did.

‘My friend Elena called me and said: “I was driving past you, beeped, you turned your head but did not say a word or wave”.

Yana was given to Galina and Vladimir Shilov instead of Ksenia, but she bears no resemblance to other family members

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‘I replied in surprise – “How could you see me in the car when I am here at home watching TV?”

‘Elena was shocked and asked: “Then who is that woman who just went in a café? She is your clone!”

Her friend rushed to find the woman, and asked to take a picture of her.

‘Elena forwarded me the photo – it was my face,’ said Uliyana.

Yana (L) and Uliyana looked nothing alike as children, but were believed to be twins. Yana was dark haired and short while Uliyana was blonde and tall

Yana (L) and Uliyana as adults. Galina and Vladimir Shilov said that Yana was an outdoorsy child who loved running around, while Uliyana preferred to play with dolls and stay indoors 

Several days later Uliyana went to meet Ksenia, her lookalike.

They knew at once they must be sisters.

They were both blond, tall and full of smiles.

Both with the same hair style, gestures, and laughed in an identical way.

Immediately they suspected that Ksenia and Yana must have been swapped – and agreed to DNA tests which proved that Uliyana’s mother and father, Galina and Vladimir Shilov, were the biological parents of Ksenia.

One of Uliyana’s friends spotted Ksenia in a cafe in the Russian city of Perm and alerted her to their resemblance 

Several days later the twins met and Uliyana said she knew at once that Ksenia was her biological sister

It was also established that Ksenia’s blood mother had given birth to Yana.

The blunder was confirmed on a nationwide NTV channel show – called DNA – bringing home the agony.

For Yana, her ‘entire world collapsed within one minute – her parents and sisters turned into strangers’, said newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Galina and Vladimir Shilov, who are teachers with their three children – oldest child Anya (C) and ‘twins’ Uliyana (held by father) and Yana (held by mother) 

Yana as a baby – she was dark haired with big brown eyes and Galina said she suspected she might not be her biological daughter 

In contrast, Knesia found the family she had longed for.

Uliyana, married with two daughters, said: ‘All my life I knew that Yana was my sister.

‘We love each other but we have never been really close.

‘We are very different.

‘We have different interests and friends.

‘And when I met Ksenia, I immediately felt an invisible link with her, she was my relative.’

Galina and Vladimir Shilov had been expecting their second child in 1982, when she was 26.

‘We had a daughter Anya and I was expecting again. There were no scans at that time and my midwife kept saying that she could feel too many limbs – but we did not expect twins,’ she said.

Her daughters were born on 5 December 1982 , first Uliyana, then a second girl.

‘I saw my second daughter just twice in the maternity hospital,’ she said.

The second twin was rushed to a children’s hospital for treatment because she was ‘too weak’.

‘I was discharged from hospital with my first baby,’ said Galina.

‘We were not allowed to visit our second baby in the hospital because of a flu epidemic.’

Ksenia (L) hugs Yana during TV show which revealed that she is not one of the twins and is not related to the family

Mother Galina (L), Yana, father Vladimir; all three believed they were related as parents and daughter

A month later the family were told they could collect their second baby.

Vladimir said: ‘I went to the hospital and the baby was handed over to me through a window.

‘She was wrapped in a blanket.

‘The nurse opened her face and asked me – ‘is this your baby?’

‘Well, if it was given to me, it means it was mine. I did not have any single thought that I picked up someone else’s baby.’

When they undressed the baby, they were shocked.

She had bruises, nappy rash and bedsores.

Biological twins Ulyana (L) and Ksenia with Yana, who believed she was one of twin sisters and was raised by their parents 

Vladimir said that in Soviet times they couldn’t complain.

‘People would have thought that we did not want to keep the baby. So we never got back to that hospital and cured our baby ourselves.’

The ‘twins’ grew up very differently.

Uliyana was tall, blond and blue eyed.

Yana – now a mother of one who lives with Galina – looked like ‘a little gypsy girl – with dark and adorable big black eyes’.

Galina said: ‘Their characters were totally different.

‘Uliyana was a quiet home girl.

‘She loved dolls, and played the violin.

‘Yana was like a little boy – she ran outside, playing with toy cars.’

They persuaded themselves that one girl looked more like her mother, the other like her father.

‘To be honest, from time to time I was anxious about it but I never told anybody,’ said Galina.

‘I did not even allow myself to think that Yana could be someone else’s daughter’.

Galina admitted that the truth has been devastating for Yana.

Her real mother recently had a double stroke and cannot walk or speak now.

‘She was so upset,’ said the mother who raised her.

‘We are trying to support her, to spend more time with her.

The twins Ksenia (L) and Uliyan. Yana and Ksenia were treated together in hospital as weak babies – without their mothers being allowed to visit because of the flu epidemic

‘She is our child, she will remain our daughter forever.’

Yana said: ‘My parents held back this truth for a while.

‘They were not brave enough to disclose it to me, that Uliyana’s real sister has been found.

‘On the one hand, I was very happy for my sister, but on the other hand I felt so lonely.

‘We are all friends now.

‘We often meet and communicate but still I am often very sad.

‘I have the one and only mother – Galina.

‘I went to meet my biological brother Dmitry but we did not get on well.’

It is believed she has not met her blood mother who is too ill.

‘I still cannot accept this for now,’ said Yana.

Mother Galina (L) with twins Ulyana (next to mother), Ksenia and daughter Yana who turned out to be not her biological childThis week a Russian court has awarded compensation of £11,300 each to Uliyana, Yana and parents Vladimir and Galina. Ksenia was awarded £13,600

It turned out that Yana – born a day after the twins – was also sent to hospital after birth due to low weight.

She and Ksenia were treated together – without their mothers being allowed to visit because of the flu epidemic.

Ksenia told of her miserable home life – a fate that should have been Yana’s.

‘I lived with my mother just for four years,’ she said.

‘I had a brother.

‘Then our mother was deprived of her parental rights and I was sent to an orphanage with my brother.

‘This is where I grew up.

Yelena, the biological mother of Yana and brother Dmitry, who raised Ksenia for a while and suffered a stroke

Parents Galina and Vladimir with Yana (C), who they thought was their biological daughter after a hospital mix up 

‘Our mother visited us couple of times – but she was not really interested.

‘She drank a lot, than she was ill, now she can’t walk, she had a stroke.

‘Because of doctors’ negligence I grew up in the orphanage.

‘I did not have a mother, father and sisters.

‘I dreamed about a family so many times.

‘I had to survive in the orphanage and it affected my character.’

She was not chosen for adoption, she said.

Twins Ksenia (L) and Uliyana. Now Ksenia is a mother of three, with sons 13 and 11, and a daughter, 2, while Uliyana has two daughters 

The brother raised with her Dmitry – who now cares for their mother – said: ‘I remember how they took me and Ksenia away to the orphanage.

‘We often protected each other there. I think of Ksenia as my real sister’.

Now Ksenia is a mother of three, with sons 13 and 11, and a daughter, two.

Galina said: ‘We are so worried about Ksenia.

‘Her childhood was taken away from her.

‘She did not have parental love, toys and sweets.

‘We lost the chance to care for her, to give her education.

‘Who is guilty? We want justice.’

Yana with her re-discovered biological brother Dmitry, who grew up in an orphanage with Ksenia

This week a Russian court has awarded compensation of £11,300 each to Uliyana, Yana and parents Vladimir and Galina.

Ksenia was awarded £13,600.

The baby swap victims had asked for ten times as much and their lawyer Igor Savvin said they are deciding whether to appeal.

Evgeny Kozminykh, a lawyer for the hospital, hit out at the scale of the compensation ordered by the court

The case is the latest in a spate of tragic swapped baby stories from the Soviet era that have only come to light with the use of DNA testing years later.

Meanwhile a lawyer for the hospital hit out at the scale of the compensation ordered by the court.

Evgeny Kozminykh said: ‘Usually such multi-million rouble lawsuits are filed when a tragedy took place, when a patient died due to the doctor’s mistake or became disabled.

‘Here, in my opinion, we see a happy event.

‘People found each other after so many years.

‘As a lawyer I must say that I do not accept this lawsuit.’

The case is the latest in a spate of tragic swapped baby stories from the Soviet era that have only come to light with the use of DNA testing years later

There was ‘no evidence’ that the hospital was culpable in swapping the babies, he claimed, criticising the court verdict which held medics to blame.

He claimed the maternity hospital could be responsible.

‘It happened 35 years ago and it is not possible to establish the truth now,’ he said.

‘Medical documents are stored for 25 years only.

‘Everything has been destroyed now.’

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