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No, a Zambian nurse didn’t swap 5,000 babies at birth for 12 years

Did a nurse admit to switching 5,000 babies in the 12 years she worked at Zambia’s University Teaching Hospital? It never happened, despite a fake story on junk news site Xpouzar and on the Zambian Observer.

The sites shared the story on Facebook – later taking them down – but it can still be found on Enderson Online News, Reesdiary and other pages.

Xpouzar claims that the nurse, one Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa, has terminal cancer and confessed “on her sick bed” that she exchanged the babies of thousands of new mothers during her work in the maternity ward.

It quotes her as saying: “If you were born in UTH between the years 1983 to 1995 chances are your parents may not be your biological parents. I had developed a habit of swapping newly born babies just for fun. So take a good look at your siblings, if for example everyone is light and you are dark you are that child and I am really sorry for that.”

‘Elizabeth Mwewa’ never worked at hospital

But the Zambia’s General Nursing Council has refuted the story. The hospital has never employed a nurse named Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa.

And a reverse image search for the photo of “Mwewa” turns it up on the blog of Ma Sedaye, a nurse originally from Zimbabwe who now lives in the US state of Ohio.

Zambian newspaper Lusaka Times reports that the council’s investigation of the story has “revealed that no midwife by that name ever existed and later on worked in maternity ward at the University Teaching Hospitals”.

Swapping a baby every day?

But the story has still found its way around the world.

And fact-checkers have responded. The story has been debunked by East African fact-checking organisation Pesa Check, as well as by Snopes, AFP Fact-check, Hoax-Alert and more.

A check on Did You Know Facts makes and interesting point: “for her claim to be true she would have had to swap a baby every day for 13 years”, including weekends. That’s “quite a feat for no one to notice”.

In fact, 5,000 days is 13.7 years. The nurse, the story says, worked for 12 years. So sometimes she would have had to swap two babies a day. – Africa Check (31/05/19)


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