Thursday, February 29, 2024

Mother-baby DNA results match in suspected baby-switch case

The wait is finally over for Granny Tembwe, the Maun mother who was told that she had given birth to a boy but was later given a girl.

The maternity results came back positive, meaning that the nurse who told her that she had given birth to a boy made an honest mistake. The Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital doesn’t have the technology to conduct forensic DNA tests and appealed for help at the local police station. The results took a long while (more than two weeks) but Tembwe no longer has to ask herself questions about whose daughter she is breastfeeding and raising. It’s hers. While there is just a smidgen of doubt (“If I had money I would go to a private doctor to confirm the police results”), Tembwe is thankfully receptive to entreaties to accept the results as genuine. More importantly, “I have no problem with the baby and have accepted it as mine.”

The Hospital Superintendent, Dr. Maxwell Mungisi, long predicted this outcome. Speaking to Sunday Standard a day before Tembwe and her baby had their blood samples taken, Mungisi said that he was confident that this unusual story would definitely have a happy ending.

She rushed to the hospital on September 9 by taxi but never made it to the maternity ward. She gave birth right inside the taxi. Thereafter, she was attended by two nurses – one male, the other female. As Tembwe remained in the taxi, the female nurse took the newly-born baby away to the maternity ward. The male nurse, who stayed behind, told Tembwe that her child was a boy. However, later when the mother was reunited with her baby, she was shocked to find that it was a girl and not a boy. Anxious about what could have happened, she and her mother sought clarification and were told that the male nurse had made a mistake. Hospitals around the world have mixed up new-born babies and this anxiety was legitimate.

Mungisi’s explanation was that being a general and not specialist nurse, the male nurse mistook the umbilical cord for the male sex organ and communicated such false impression to the mother. The other point the doctor made was that, at that time, Tembwe’s baby was the only one in the maternity ward and so could not have been mixed up with any other. Another baby was also born at around the same time but the delivery was in the theatre through Caesarean section. As per standard operating procedure, this baby was tagged. The latter was attended by the midwife on duty who on getting back to the maternity ward, found Tembwe’s baby. It was the midwife who told Tembwe that her baby was a girl and not a boy. However, even as she was discharged from the hospital and went home with the baby, Tembwe had grave doubts about her maternity of the baby. 


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