A South African woman who claims to have given birth to ten babies is appealing for money to help raise the huge brood as officials insist they can’t find any evidence of her alleged delivery.
Gosiame Sithole, 37, a former store manager, said today that she will be unable to return to her job following the birth on Monday night in Pretoria, and urgently needs donations of nappies, baby formula, bottles, clothes and cash to get by.
Sithole, whose husband is unemployed, told Pretoria News that she exhausted her savings by taking unpaid leave from work two months into her pregnancy, and is currently relying on her elderly mother-in-law to care for the decuplets.
But doubts are being raised over Sithole’s account, with government officials saying today that they cannot confirm the birth because nobody has seen her since.
Social workers said they have been aware of the family since 2016 – when Sithole gave birth to twins – and will send someone to her home tomorrow to try and confirm the new delivery.
Thabo Masebe, a spokesman for the regional governor, said there has been no record of a delivery of 10 babies at any hospital – public or private – in his province and that such an event would be ‘hard to hide’.
A statement read: ‘Following reports from the Independent Media group about a Gauteng woman having given birth to decuplets on Monday, the Gauteng Provincial Government conducted a thorough check with all hospitals in the province to establish the veracity or otherwise of the report.
‘None of the hospitals in the province, public and private, have any records of such a delivery in their facilities.’
If the birth is confirmed as genuine, it would be a world record – coming just a month after a Malian woman, Halima Cisse, gave birth to nine children in Morocco.
Sithole’s husband, Tebogo Tsotetsi, was the first to announce the birth to journalists late Monday, saying his wife had given birth to seven boys and three girls.
MailOnline has been unable to independently verify the birth because the name of the hospital where it took place has not been made public.
Feziwe Ndwayana, a spokesman for the Department of Social Development, told TimesLIVE: ‘I can only make confirmations tomorrow, because our social workers will visit the mother tomorrow.
‘We have not physically seen the mother and her children but the mother is our client, she has been our client since 2016.
‘She has had twins before, so since that time she has been our client.’
South African media have been at loggerheads over the alleged birth, with some outlets racing to defend the reporting while others have quickly disparaged it.
The Pretoria News has even published a strongly worded column by the editor of another newspaper defending their story.
Meanwhile nobody has yet published images of Ms Sithole after birth or images of her children, leaving a considerable amount of doubt about its authenticity.
Mother gives birth to 9 babies in Morocco
The story first emerged on Tuesday when Pretoria News spoke to Sithole’s husband Tsotetsi, who allegedly told them: ‘It’s seven boys and three girls. She was seven months and seven days pregnant.
‘I am happy. I am emotional. I can’t talk much.’
Underneath that, the paper then ran an interview with the couple they said had been conducted months before the birth – but kept secret until now.
In that interview, Sithole claimed that doctors had initially told her that she was pregnant with six children.
But that was increased to eight following a later scan. It was only while undergoing surgery that the other two babies were discovered, they said.
Sithole said she suffered through the complicated pregnancy, experiencing morning sickness early on followed later by pain in her leg.
Meanwhile Tsotetsi revealed that he initially could not believe his wife with pregnant with six children, thinking it was medically impossible.
‘But after I found out that these things do happen, and saw my wife’s medical records, I got excited. I can’t wait to have them in my arms,’ he said at the time.
The condition of the children following the birth was not made clear by Pretoria News, which was the first to report the case.
Children of such extreme multiple pregnancies are almost always born under-weight and can often be malnourished as the mother’s body struggles to provide nutrients for so many infants.
Cases of infant mortality are also not uncommon following large multiple births.
Sithole’s case comes just a month after the world’s first live nonuplets were born in Morocco to Malian woman Halima Cisse.
Cisse, 25, from Timbuktu, was taken to hospital in the Malian capital of Bamako in March to be kept under observation before being flown to Morocco to be cared for at a specialist hospital after the country’s president intervened.
The children – five girls and four boys – were then delivered by a team of 10 doctors and 25 nurses via Caesarean on May 4, in a complicated operation that almost caused Cisse to die of blood loss.
Doctors later revealed the babies were born significantly underweight and had ‘deficiencies in everything’, but are now in a stable condition.
As of last week, the children were still being cared for around the clock in Morocco with doctors saying their weight has increased significantly.
But medics said they will still need to be kept under observation for at least another six weeks before they can consider sending them home.
Cisse is thought to be staying nearby after coming out of intensive care, where she was recovering from a ruptured artery during the birth.
Ms Cisse’s pregnancy was just the third reported instance of nonuplets in history.
The first recorded case of nonuplets came in Sydney in the 1970s, although sadly none of the babies survived, according to The Independent.
In March 1999, a set of nonuplets was born in Malaysia to a woman named Zurina Mat Saad, though none of them survived for more than six hours.
In January 2009, Nadya Suleman – dubbed Octomum – gave birth to octuplets including six boys and two girls at a hospital in California.
All survived the birth, and recently celebrated their 12th birthdays.
Ms Suleman is still the official world record holder for the largest live birth.
The babies were a result of IVF treatment, and were nine weeks premature when they were delivered via c-section.
CAN A WOMAN GIVE BIRTH TO TEN BABIES?
Women giving birth to multiple children is not uncommon, with cases of twins and triplets occurring relatively frequently with no scientific intervention.
But high-order multiple pregnancies – four children and above – are extremely rare naturally, and almost always occur as a result of fertility treatment.
That is because such treatment – which includes IVF – is expensive and the chances of success are relatively slim.
This incentivises some unscrupulous medics to implant large numbers of fertilized eggs into a woman’s womb to further increase the chances that one will develop.
But in rare cases several of the embryos – or all of them – will start developing into foetuses, creating extreme cases of multiple pregnancy.
In theory there is no limit to how many children a woman can carry at once, though risks to the health of both mother and babies increases with each additional child.
Women with extreme multiple pregnancies are more likely to develop anaemia – a lack of iron in the blood that can damage the immune system and make other complications worse.
Cases of pre-eclampsia – a condition that can cause severe headaches and potentially-deadly fits – and gestational diabetes – high blood sugar that has been linked to post-natal depression – also increase in such cases.
Babies born of high-order multiple pregnancies are almost always delivered early, and tend to be both under-weight and malnourished.
Cases of infant mortality in the days and weeks after birth are also not uncommon.
The largest set of babies to be born in one go and to survive past infancy is eight – born to ‘Octomum’ Natalie Suleman in California in 2009.
Ms Suleman, who already had six children through IVF, had 12 embryos leftover. Her doctor implanted all of them inside her womb at once.
Her case sparked a fierce debate over IVF regulation, with the fertility specialist who carried out the procedure stripped of his medical licence.
Nine children were also born to Halima Cisse – a Malian woman – at a hospital in Morocco last month, where they remain under constant care.
While all five girls and four boys are said to be ‘doing fine’ and putting on weight, doctors say it will be at least another six weeks before they can consider sending them home.
Cisse is also still recovering from a torn artery she suffered during the birth, which almost caused her to bleed to death
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate