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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke December 17, 2021

Old claim about nurse swapping 5,000 babies at birth has been debunked

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  • The General Nursing Council of Zambia investigated reports of a nurse making a deathbed confession about swapping thousands of babies in 2019 and found that there was no evidence of such malfeasance, or a nurse by the name given in reports. 

In June, a couple in Tennessee with a newborn child was surprised when a hospital nurse mistakenly brought them the wrong baby from the nursery. 

"Just a panicked look on her face, she was like just breathing heavily and just flustered," the father told reporters when the hospital swapped the babies back. 

The incident made both local and national news. Now, what looks like a headline about a different, malicious switched-at-birth scheme is being shared on social media. 

"Dying nurse on deathbed claims she swapped more than 5,000 babies for ‘fun,’" the Dec. 14 Facebook post says.  

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We found the headline on an undated story on a website called Relay Hero, which says it spreads stories "that really matter."

Featured Fact-check

The post discusses details in an April 2019 story in the Zambian Observer that said a maternity ward nurse named Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, made a deathbed confession that she "used to swap babies at UTH for fun." 

"I have nothing to hide, in the 12 years I worked in the maternity ward at UTH, I swapped close to 5,000 babies," the story claims she said. "If you were born in UTH between the years 1983 to 1995 chances are your parents may not be your biological parents."

But, as Snopes reported in 2019, the Lusaka Times reported that year that an investigation by the General Nursing Council of Zambia found no evidence to support the claims in the Zambia Observer story — or any midwife named Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa in the council’s registry. .

The Zambian Observer also reported on the investigation, saying that it "revealed that no midwife by that name ever existed and later worked in (the) maternity ward at the University Teaching Hospitals." 

We found no evidence to corroborate the claim in the post. Only news articles and fact-checks debunking it. 

We rate this post Pants on Fire!


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Old claim about nurse swapping 5,000 babies at birth has been debunked

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