The Santander and Bogota Twins: How did They Get Switched?

Image Credit: William Cañas Velasco/Facebook

Jorge Bernal’s life flipped on its axis in 2014 when the 25-year-old Bogota resident, who had always believed himself to be a fraternal twin, realized that he actually has an identical twin in Santander named William Cañas Velasco. Moreover, the duo’s yet-presumed brothers, Carlos Bernal and Wilber Cañas Velasco, also turned out to be physically identical to one another. Thus, after the four met up, attempting to untangle the thread that connected them together all the way from Santander to Bogota, they realized that somewhere around their births, a swap must have happened. In the Netflix documentary ‘The Accidental Twins,’ filmmaker Alessandro Angulo attempts to showcase the cause and effects of the same twin swap.

The Materno Infantil Hospital in Bogota

Since their births in 1988, Jorge and Carlos grew up together in Bogota with their mother, Luz Marina Castro. Meanwhile, William and Wilber grew up in Santander with their parents, Carmelo and Ana Delina Velasco, and numerous other siblings. Each set of brothers’ physical dissimilarity to one another was evident. However, both families assumed their sons were fraternal twins and continued raising them. Therefore, the fact remains that the swap happened early in infancy and without the parents’ knowledge. Consequently, as the Velasco and Bernal brothers attempted to unravel the mystery, the obvious line of thought emerged that the swap must have happened at the hospital.

While both pairs of brothers were born in different areas of Colombia, one visit to The Materno Infantil hospital by the Velascos ended up revealing the truth behind the swap. As it would turn out, William and Jorge were born on December 21, 1988, at the Materno Infantil in Bogota. On December 22, Wilber and Carlos were born in the Santander province. However, as Carlos’ health took a turn, he traveled to Bogota city with his grandma. There, he arrived at the same hospital where the Bernal twins were, opening up the scope for the swap.

The Swap Likely Happened as a Mistake By the Hospital

Although natural suspicion emerges of whether or not the swap between Carlos and William happened as an intentional act by a third party, the accepted fact remains that it was likely due to a non-malicious mistake at the hospital. As per Materno Infantil staff, nurses Gloria Sanchez and Blanca Rojas, who participated in the Netflix documentary, the tertiary hospital oversaw a considerable number of patients day in and day out. As a result, it wasn’t uncommon for babies to end up sharing cribs or incubators due to lack of space. As such, it is likely that the hospital assigned Carlos the same space as William during his visit.

Even so, another step must have taken place for the swap to have happened. Materno Infantil had the protocol of tying hospital bracelets to twins, identifying them in relation to their parents and their status as “Twin 1” and “Twin 2.” Therefore, in order for Carlos and William to swap places as babies, their bracelets must have fallen off at some point during their stay. Afterward, rather than informing the institution about the incident, a nurse, doctor, hospital staff, or someone else must have replaced the bracelets on the babies. Therefore, due to this act of carelessness, William ended up traveling to Santander with Carlos’ aunt and grew up as a Velasco beside Wilber. Since the circumstances surrounding the swap remain so obscure, no singular party has yet been revealed as the reason behind the swap. Still, the swap certainly happened due to a mistake by Bogota’s Materno Infantil Hospital.

Similar Case of Twin Swapping

The swap that occurred between the Velasco brothers and the Bernal brothers remains one of the most unique instances of twin swapping in known history. In fact, the instance offered such an intriguing narrative that it caught the attention of various media outlets as well as geneticists and psychologists in the 2010s. One psychologist, Nancy L. Segal, even wrote a book about the same in 2018 titled, ‘Accidental Brothers: The Story of Twins Exchanged at Birth and the Power of Nature and Nurture.’

Adryani Iwani, Noratirah, and Adryana Iwani//Image Credit: DramaTwo/YouTube

Yet, the Santander and Bogota Twins case wasn’t the only accidental twin swapping that unfolded recently. In 2020, a similar situation was discovered in the Malaysian town of Kota Baru. Adryani Iwani and Adryana Iwani grew up as fraternal sisters beside one another for 19 years until one day, in 2019, the former learned about a girl, Noratirah, who looked eerily similar to her. Eventually, a DNA test revealed that Adryana and Noratirah were swapped at birth. Thus, both were raised by each other’s biological parents. Similar to the Velasco brothers and the Bernal brothers’ case, the hospital staff’s negligence was also found to be to blame for the twin swap at Kota Baru.

Read More: Carlos Bernal Castro and Wilber Canas Velasco: Where Are the Identical Twins Now?