A Tunisian woman in her 30s who earlier this month claimed to be pregnant with 12 babies, has been exposed by the country's health ministry as a fraud. The woman, from the town of Gafsa told hospital workers that she was expecting six boys and six girls.
'Our staff interviewed her at length, but her pregnancy appears to be in her imagination', said a spokesman in Tunis. 'She's claiming to be nine months pregnant...but there's absolutely nothing about her appearance which indicates this. The woman has point blank refused to undergo a medical examination. She's gone into hiding'.
A doctor at the No'man al Adab Hospital, Gasfa, confirmed that the woman had never been in their care, speculating that she may have been trying to make money from the media. The woman, a teacher, is thought to have turned to IVF treatment after having two miscarriages since her marriage in 2007. Her husband, known only as Marwan, indicated that the couple were excited about the impending births and said that 'the medical team told us my wife would give birth naturally'.
British medics had expressed their concerns about the case. Peter Bowen-Simpkins, a fellow at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told the Daily Mail that 'the chances are she will deliver at 20 weeks. I wouldn't even give her a one in 100 chance of even one surviving. It's frightening'.
It was suspected that the woman had been given fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries into releasing several mature eggs at a time in order to maximise conception. Some women using this treatment can develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovaries produce too many eggs, but experts cast doubt on this being the case.
'How could you get 12 babies into the womb at the same time?' questioned Mr Bowen-Simpkins. 'The womb just doesn't expand that much. She would have to be about seven feet tall'.
In January of this year, Nadia Suleman, a US divorcee, attracted worldwide media attention after giving birth to the world's longest-surviving octuplets. The record for multiple pregnancies was set in 1996, when a 23-year old Greek Cypriot woman had to abort nine of her 11 fetuses in order to save two.