Life Imitates Art: Real Life Stranger than Soap Ficition

Saturday, May 16, 2009 10:06 PM ET | By Scotty Gore

( — It’s not every day that Soap Opera Network reports on news from outside the soap world, but this is one story that would make even the writers and executives at the Big Three Networks scratch their heads. 

Soaps are no stranger to drama, especially if it involves the kidnapping and switching of newborn babies.  For decades, the various daytime dramas have frequently employed the plot device to spice up otherwise mundane storylines.  On “One Life to Live” for example, only one (Joey) of the five children of town heroine Victoria Lord Davidson had a normal childhood.  Two others were kidnapped, and the other two were forgotten by their own mother until after adulthood.  “All My Children” launched an ambitious cross over storyline with “One Life to Live” back in 2004, in which a baby went missing in Pinve Valley, and was passed off as the son of someone else in Llanview.  Even today, soaps such as “Days of Our Lives” and “One Life to Live” are embroiled in baby stealing plots. 

All of which makes the real life story of Kay Rene Reed Qualls and DeeAnn Angell Shafer all the more intriguing.  In a plot twist that could only come from the twisted mind of a soap writer, the two women were switched at birth at an eastern Oregon hospital back in 1953.  Both ladies have gone on to live normal lifestyles, but grew up with the nagging feeling that, for some odd reason, they bore little resembalance to their siblings and other family members.   

In an interview with the Associated Press, Quall’s brother Bobby Reed, stated that an eighty-six year old neighbor to both mothers, recently shared her suspicion with him that the two girls may have gotten switched while in the hospital shortly after birth.  The woman who asked that her name not be released, claims that Marjorie Angell confonted nurses at Pioneer Memorial Hospital back in 1953, believing that she was given the wrong baby.  However, her concerns were quickly brushed off by hospital staff. 

After years of rumors and suspicion, both women agreed to take DNA tests back in March.  Shocked, but not unexpected, the results confirmed what had long been suspected. Shafer’s results showed that she had a  99.9% chance of being related to Bobby and Dorothy Reed.  Qualls results, on the other hand, revealed that she had a zero percent chance of being geneticall related to her brother and sister. “After seeing Kay Rene, I went home and told my husband, I don’t know why she’s doing the DNA testing,” she said. “I was shocked — she looked just like my sister’s twin,” Shafer told the AP

Both women, who share a May 3rd birthday, have declined the hospital’s offer to pay for counseling. “I’m trying to move forward at look at the positive,” Shafer said. “You can’t look back. It just drives you crazy.”  

To read the entire Associated Press article, click here.

In the recent past soap writers have often stated that they take their plot twists and turns from real life events, so it should be interesting to see which of the daytime dramas will put their own personal spin on this particular stranger than ficition story in the months and years to come.  In the meantime, viewers will have to contend with watching current baby swtiching storylines play out with their daily dose of drama.   

Discussion: Life Imitates Art: Real Life Stranger than Soap Fiction

  • The Bold and the Beautiful
  • All My Children
  • One Life to Live
  • The Young and the Restless
  • Days of our Lives
  • General Hospital
  • As The World Turns
  • Guiding Light
  • Kay Rene reed Qualls
  • DeeAnn Angell Shafer