Decuplets — seven boys and three girls — born to a couple in South Africa are “fighting for their lives” at an undisclosed hospital in Pretoria, according to reports.
An aunt, who did not wish to be identified, told the local outlet Times Live: “The babies were born and are still in incubators fighting for their lives. They came at 29 weeks; the mother is still weak. And as a black family we want to protect them. This is a sensitive issue.”
The fascination with the family began after Pretoria News first reported that a 37-year-old woman, identified as Gosiame Thamara Sithole, had given birth to ten babies, potentially setting a Guinness world record.
“It’s seven boys and three girls,” shared Teboho Tsotesi, the children’s father as he informed the news outlet that the children were born prematurely. “She was seven months and seven days pregnant. I am happy. I am emotional.”
As #Tembisa10 and #NationalBabyShower trended on social media, the authenticity of the news was immediately put to question after the appearance of the babies was not made public.
Local officials claimed that they were unable to find the medical records of birth at private and public hospitals in Gauteng province, where Pretoria is located.
The Department of Social Development in Gauteng province said they have traced the family and would make an announcement after confirming the news.
But the relatives insist that the news is correct.
“People are hunting them [the babies] down. They are even checking for their registrations with home affairs. We are hoping they make it,” the aunt was quoted as saying by Times Live.
“At the end of the day it’s our responsibility. Even though people are starting to doubt about the babies, they were born. She [the mother] is a bubbly and strong person, so she probably doesn’t want people seeing her in pain,” she said, adding that pictures of the babies have not been sent to the family as the mother cannot go inside the neonatal intensive care unit with a mobile phone.
Months before the birth, their mother Ms Sithole had told Pretoria News that the pregnancy was “tough at the beginning.”
“I was sick. It was hard for me. It’s still tough but I am used to it now. I don’t feel the pain anymore, but it’s still a bit tough,” she said.
The father had told the Pretoria News that he was surprised on being told that his wife had given birth to ten children, as the pre-natal scans had only detected eight foetuses. While fertility health experts believe that a woman conceives these many children usually through fertility treatment, the parents insist that the conception was natural.
If the claims are found to be true, the couple, already a parent to six-year-old twins, will have a total of 12 kids.