Genetic identification of a war-evacuated child in search of his own identity for more than seventy years

Pere Puig, Anna Barceló, Roger Lahoz, Àngels Niubó, Jimi Jiménez, Montserrat Soler-López, Michael J. Donovan, Joaquima Navarro, Jordi Camps, Montserrat Garcia-Caldés, Francisco Etxeberria, Rosa Miró

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1 Citation (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier B.V. V. M. E. was evacuated when he was a young boy in 1939. He left an aunt and cousins in Spain (G. E. family). He was adopted in Belgium by the D. family and thus his new name became V. D. He has been unable to remember his childhood before his adoption, a symptomatology compatible with amnesia for personal identity, presumably because he may have suffered a head contusion before or during his exodus. Identification tests were performed on blood samples from V. D. and V. G. E., a mitochondrial cousin of the missing boy. V. G. E. and the missing boy have a common mitochondrial ancestor, their maternal grandmother. The mitochondrial profile of both samples turned out to be highly specific, which allowed the genetic identification of V. D. as V. M. E. As a result, V. D. has reclaimed his past and reunited with his former family in Spain after more than seven decades. As far as we know, this is the first report describing the application of mitochondrial DNA in the identification of a person evacuated during the Spanish Civil War suffering from amnesia for personal identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-315
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Amnesia
  • DNA typing
  • Forensic genetics
  • Human rights
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Spanish Civil War


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