Dying Nurse Claims She Swapped More Than 5,000 Babies 'for Fun' -- But Is It All a Hoax?

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An infant baby lies in a bed while wheeled through the maternity ward.
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A jaw-dropping story out of Zambia has the Internet wondering if it's all a hoax or if we've literally just met the world's worst maternity ward nurse ever. According to the Zambia Observer, a nurse calling herself Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa recently claimed to have "developed a habit of swapping newly born babies just for fun" when she was working at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia. But that's just the beginning of this shocking tale.

  • Mwewa told the outlet that she has terminal cancer and "will be dying soon" -- so she's coming clean now to ask for forgiveness.

    Um, forgiveness?? How about we back up and talk about who these 5,000 babies were? And how no one noticed what she was doing? And how in the world the babies -- who are now full-grown adults -- and their parents should be notified now?!

    The Observer reports that the alleged "swaps" happened over a 12-year span, between 1983 and 1995. When you really stop and think about it, it's pretty hard to believe.

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  • That's probably why many people are calling the whole thing a hoax and a desperate plea for attention.

    In fact, social media outcry grew so loud, the Lusaka Times did a preliminary investigation into the matter on its own, and found no midwife or nurse by the name of Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa was practicing at that hospital during the years she claimed to have swapped the babies.

    But if that's true, then it begs another looming question: Why on earth would somebody lie about such a thing? Especially on her death bed? (That is, if Mwewa even really is on her death bed, after all.)

  • According to the Observer, Mwewa was adamant in her claims, and wanted to leave this world with a clean conscience.

    "I wish to confess my sins before God and before all the affected people especially those who were giving birth at UTH during my service," Mwewa reportedly told the Observer. "I have found God [and I am] now born again. I have nothing to hide. In the 12 years I worked in the maternity ward at UTH, I swapped close to 5,000 babies."

    Still, she offered no further details or proof the swaps even happened, which leaves the whole claim feeling a bit thin.

  • Stories about babies who were switched at birth are rare, but they do happen.

    In 2015, two babies in India were accidentally switched at birth in the northeastern state of Assam, according to the BBC. But incredibly, even after the news was discovered, it took nearly two years to prove via DNA testing, and by then, the toddlers were so attached to their families, they reportedly refused to switch.

    And back in 1998, the US was riveted by the story of two baby girls, Rebecca Chittum and Callie Johnson, who were accidentally switched at University of Virginia Hospital three years prior.

    Here's hoping this story is in fact what conspiracy theorists believe: one big hoax. Because if these claims really are true, they're almost too upsetting to imagine.