A nurse’s aide who said a doctor ordered her to switch the name tags on two newborn babies has died of emphysema complications.
The babies left Hardee Memorial Hospital in 1978 with the wrong parents, triggering a four-year custody fight when one child died and the couple who raised her went looking for the other girl.
The other child was raised in Sarasota, Fla., as Kimberly Mays.
The nurse’s aide, Patsy Webb, told CBS on Nov. 23 that she refused the order from Dr. Ernest Palmer to switch the babies’ bracelets but noticed the next day they had been switched. Webb died Thursday at age 59.
Webb said she remained silent for years because she did not want to lose health insurance coverage for her ailing child.
She said she finally spoke out in November because she knew she was dying.
The switch was discovered in 1988, and Webb said in a sworn statement the following year that she knew nothing about it.
Kimberly, now 15, won the legal right last year to avoid any contact with Ernest and Regina Twigg, the biological parents.
Both families won multimillion-dollar awards from the hospital.
Palmer denied any role in the switch, and other hospital employees rallied behind him.
The Hardee County Sheriff’s Department decided not to open a criminal investigation, saying the statute of limitations had run out.