Mark Twain used it as plot. Countless movies have plots centering around the horror of it, and there’s even a reality series, “Switched at Birth,” dedicated to the realism of it. From visitor screening and identification and alarm bracelets, modern labor and delivery wards take the safety of newborn babies very seriously. Yet, accidental mixups still occur. In 2012, for example, Abbott Northwestern Hospital accidentally gave Tammy Van Dyke the wrong baby for over two hours, which she has claimed resulted in emotionally exhausting bonding and breastfeeding before the mixup was discovered. Some of these accidental mixups aren’t caught so soon, with many spanning years before discovery. In 2015, two male babies were accidentally swapped at birth in the state of Assam, India. While the mother of one of the boys became suspicious just weeks after going home and immediately made contact with the hospital, it would take two years before the truth would come out via DNA testing. By that time, though, both families were too attached to children not biologically their own. They decided to keep the children they were raising as their own instead of biologically correcting the mixup.

A mistake, mixup, or accidental swap is horrific enough. It’s an emotional and traumatic plight no parent would ever want to face. After all, whether it’s an hour or a decade, bonding between parent and child begins immediately. But, what happens when the horror story takes a new, intentional, and malicious twist and occurs in mass numbers? That’s just what happened recently when Elizabeth Bwalya Mwewa of Zambia, Africa claimed to have swapped thousands of babies just for the fun of it. The location here has set many to wonder if her admission is a hoax for attention or a jaw-dropping truth. Mwewa claims that she is suffering from terminal cancer, and, on her deathbed, she’s found God. This has prompted her to confess her sins so she can die with a clean conscious. While working at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia from 1984 to 1995, she claims to have randomly swapped over 5,000 babies. She’s asking for forgiveness from the children and parents she has harmed.

Mwewa’s story has gone viral across social media and news outlets. There’s as much outrage as skepticism from readers and investigators, however. Many wonder how such atrocities could be possible for over a decade without anyone knowing or any of the victims discovering that their babies were swapped at birth. Preliminary investigations haven’t uncovered any evidence to support Mwewa. There’s no record of any midwife, nurse, or employee by her name working at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia during the timeframe in question. Could she have been an undocumented volunteer? So far, no victims or coworkers have come forward with any suspicions of her self-reported nefarious activity, either. Other than her reasoning of newfound faith and rebirth, Mwewa herself can’t even support her claim with tangible evidence. Whether a cruel lie or even crueler truth, Mwewa has provided a face to the horror stories of intentional baby swapping.