By Josh Saunders
A family are fundraising fly their daughter who was switched at birth 5,000 miles so she can spend her first Christmas at home.
After DNA results revealed a biological match last month, the Lashtur family who live in West Forest, North Carolina, USA, are trying to make up for the 39 years apart from Valentina Suman.
Parents Vera and Nikolay Lashtur, 67 and 66, were unaware nurses had accidentally switched the babies when two mothers gave birth in the same room in Moldova on March 27, 1978.
Rumours circulated before they migrated to America in 1999, after a neighbour who knew both families and spotted suspicious similarities.
They decided to put the rumours to rest by tracking down Valentina on Facebook and last month with the help of a Russian TV Show DNA tests proved they were related.
Now her brother Anatoliy Lashtur, 36, is fundraising to bring the family together at Christmas and hopes someday to help Valentina and her two children move to the USA.
Anatoliy, a UPS Driver, said: “It’s been 39 years, we heard rumours for years but it was difficult to believe or even think the possibility that it could be true.
“My mother knew she was in the hospital the same day as the other woman and while she believed it was a rumour, she wanted to know the truth.
“There were multiple attempts to find the other family over the years so that we could put all of these rumours to rest.
“But they kept moving from place to place and it was almost impossible to find them, so we moved on believing it wasn’t true
“It was the case of our former-neighbour knowing both the girls’ histories, how they looked and acted and then knowing both families, she believed it was just a rumour but didn’t have any proof.
“After the rumours resurfaced my parents became determined more than ever to find the other family, so they travelled to Moldova and with the help of a neighbour found the other mom.
“A name was given to my parents, which was passed onto my sister in the United States, so we could find her online, she also wanted to know if the rumours were true.
“Seeing pictures of Valentina was the initial proof that she could be our sister, but there was still a percentage of uncertainty and we needed the DNA tests to be 100% positive.
“We were anxiously and impatiently waiting for the DNA results, once the findings were read aloud we cried realising how many years have passed and how many precious moments have been missed.
“It was discovered that a grave mistake was made, the nursing staff mistakenly switched the babies and both mothers left with hospital with the other’s child.
“That was the first time we had the opportunity to see our birth sister Valentina, hug each other and cry together – that moment and day will always be special in our lives.
“We have already lost 39 years with her, so the faster we can reunite her with us, my brothers and sisters, the faster we can start the process of enjoying each other and the time we have left.
“We’re all in our 30s and 40s and have families, so the sooner we are together the better, it would be a Christmas we will never forget and the best gift for everybody involved.”
The rumours originated from a neighbour in their hometown of Hirtop in Moldova, who recognised that each child bared resemblances to the other family.
As well as knowing that both babies refused to feed for the first three months, would always cry and were constantly sick.
Anatoliy said: “Our neighbour was a good friend to the other family as well and knew that both babies came home from hospital the same day.
“The neighbour knew that for the first three months neither baby would eat, would always be crying and were sick.
“Then as the girls grew up she started noticing the differences between them.
“Growing up we heard the story but never knew this could have happened, as a kid you just think it’s a story.”
After tracking down biological sister Valentina online, they quizzed her and eventually after seeing pictures believed there could be a chance she was related.
Anatoliy said: “My sister who I grew up with wanted to know if she had a mother, family and siblings also so that she could move forward if they were just tumours.
“We went to the place where we heard they last live, but when we arrived thye had already move the house was in ruin and It was a pile of trash.
“When my sister found her on Facebook, she asked a lot of questions like when she was born and more.
“Valentina wondered how we knew so much information, then we asked for pictures of her when she was younger and she looked like our other sister.”
A Russian TV show that reunited lost family members, invited the family onto the show where it would be confirmed that Valentina was the Lashtur’s daughter.
Anatoliy said: “When the tests were read out we were all crying, it was painful and very emotional, we’ve missed out on 39 years together.
“Late I spoke to my sister who I grew up with and told her that I love her and nothing changes, to us she will always be our sister, we’ve just gained more family.”
Anatoliy, who is Valentina’s brother and a father of four, had doubly the reasons celebrate after his wife gave birth to baby Rebeka, the same day the DNA tests were revealed.
Now the Lashtur family are fundraising to bring her to the USA for Christmas, along with raising money for her to move to the US full time.
They’re hoping to raise $10,000 to cover costs for the legal fees, the expedition process, applications fees and pay off her debt so she can move with her daughter and adopted son.
Anatoliy said: “We are trying to make-up for lost time that we have never been able to spend with her.
“In time, we want to bring her to live in the USA but know it’s a long process and have difficulties trying to bring her daughter and an adopted son.
“For now, we are just focussing on getting her home for the holidays so we can spend our first Christmas together.”
To donate visit: www.gofundme.com/reunite-valea-with-her-birth-family