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Dying Nurse in Zambia Claims She Swapped 5,000 Babies at Birth

Rebecca Macatee
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Dying Nurse in Zambia Claims She Swapped 5,000 Babies at Birth

Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa's alleged confession about switching babies "for fun" quickly went viral. But is it actually true? 
Robie Online/Shutterstock

April 9, 2019

A former maternity ward nurse in Zambia has allegedly made a deathbed confession that sounds like a plot straight out of a movie. She reportedly told the Zambian Observer that she swapped nearly 5,000 babies over the course of 12 years, a claim that isn't just shocking—it's nearly impossible to believe.

Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa said she "developed a habit of swapping newly born babies just for fun" while employed at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia from 1983 to 1995. Why the sudden confession? She has "terminal cancer and...will be dying soon," and wants to ask forgiveness before it's too late.

"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 is quoted saying. "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."

This far-fetched claim quickly went viral, but it may very well be a hoax. Per the Lusaka Times, a preliminary investigation conducted by the General Nursing Council of Zambia found no records of a midwife or nurse with Mwewa's name having ever worked in the maternity ward of the hospital. 

Thom Yung'ana, a spokesperson for the General Nursing Council of Zambia, told the Zambian publication that further investigation into Mwewa's alleged claims would help to verify the authenticity of the Zambian Observer report. (Parents.com reached out to Yung'ana but did not receive an immediate response.)

How is it possible that any one person could've swapped as many babies as Mwewa purportedly claimed she did? As a Snopes.com fact check noted, in order to have switched 5,000 babies between 1983 and 1995, Mwewa would've had to do so at a rate of about one infant, every day, for 13 years. 

You'd think someone would've noticed if baby swapping was really happening day in and day out under Mwewa's care for more than a decade, right? We won't know for sure until the General Nursing Council of Zambia or local authorities release more information, but we're hoping the level of cradle swapping in this story is in fact a hoax.