Two friends who sat at the same school desk as teens were raised by the wrong families for 28 years after being mistakenly swapped at birth in a hospital blunder.
Svetlana Gachegova and Ekaterina (Katya) Naidenko went to each other’s homes for sleepovers never suspecting anything was amiss.
As a child, Svetlana became very close to Ekaterina’s older sister Lyuba and now DNA tests prove they are in fact blood sisters.
Svetlana embraced her real mum Valentina Naidenko, 66, after the shocking findings were revealed on a TV programme.
But the discovery of the Soviet maternity hospital blunder has caused anguish for the two women from Russia’s Perm region.
For mum-of-two Ekaterina there is the agony of finding out that she is not related to the four siblings and loving parents she grew up with, and especially that Valentina is not her real mother.
Both her blood parents are now dead so she can never be acknowledged or embraced by them. She admits to being “upset” and “confused” by the discovery on a Russian TV show on the channel NTV.
During the programme, Svetlana, a mother of one whose married name is Yakimenko, also appears jarred by the discovery and says bluntly: “I would like to forget this DNA test.”While she has remained close to Lyuba, 29, since childhood, she was shaken that the woman she believed was her elder sister – Aleftina – is not related to her at all.
Svetlana said: “I still do not believe it has happened to me. It feels like I’ve been watching a movie.” A tearful Valentina said: “Katya (Ekaterina) grew up differently compared with my other four children.
“She was a roly-poly child – not slim like others, but I was happy she was healthy. “I did not really suspect anything but other people did.”
Villagers in remote Bub openly said to her husband Alexey: “This is not your girl.”He loved Ekaterina – now a shop assistant – like his other children but died last year from cancer not knowing the suspicions were true.
Svetlana, a dental nurse and mother of one, grew up in neighbouring village Kichanovo, in the family of Raisa and Valentin Gachegov, both now dead, with sister Aleftina.
Svetlana said: “Katya and I had many common friends, and we often spent time together. We loved the fact that we were born on the same day, it was rather fun.