She's Her Own Twin


Attorney Alan Tindell finally agreed to take the case, but he questioned her extensively about her connection to the children. "These aren't your sister's children? These aren't your brother's children? You didn't abduct these children from anyone?" Tindell said that given how adamant Fairchild's answers were, he decided to believe her.

But Fairchild and her family remained frightened, fearing a knock at the door at any moment. So they made plans to hide the children from authorities.

"Getting that summons in the mail to go to court, that they were trying to take my kids from me, my stomach just went into a big old knot. I just started crying, and I called my family, and I held my kids and was scared," Fairchild said.

"I'd sit and have dinner with my kids and just break out crying. They would just look at me like, 'What's wrong, Mom.' They'd come get me a hug, and I couldn't explain it to them, because I didn't understand," Fairchild explained.

Fairchild was in a tough spot, up against a government that thought she was at the very least a fraud, with foolproof scientific evidence weighing against her.

But then she got a break. Across the country, there was another woman with DNA that didn't match her children's, but in this case, the doctors had cracked the medical mystery.

Another Woman, Same Story

In Boston Karen Keegan had received a chilling phone call from her doctor. It came during a very difficult time in her life, just as she needed a kidney transplant.

Keegan recalled what the doctor said to her: "Mrs. Keegan, we have some unusual news to report to you. We've never had this happen before, but your children don't match your DNA." That revelation came after her family members had had their blood tested for compatibility.

"Any child from a mom and dad should inherit genes from both the mom and the dad. In Keegan's case, it appeared that her two boys hadn't inherited any of her DNA," said Dr. Lynne Uhl, a pathologist and doctor of transfusion medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "They weren't hers. So we scratched our heads and said, 'This is really unusual. How can this be?'"

Boston doctors asked Keegan the same type of questions that had been asked of Fairchild in Washington They asked Keegan where her two sons had come from, since their genetic code was not the same as hers.

"They wanted to know the name of the hospital where my children were born. They had some other thoughts, like perhaps this was some kind of in vitro fertilization or even worse, that this woman just might not be completely telling the truth or even be psychologically unbalanced in some way," Keegan said.

Keegan's doctors investigated the case further.

"It was a medical mystery. Certainly there were individuals whom we ran the story by who said, 'There must be a skeleton in the closet," Uhl said.

Doctors took DNA samples from all over Keegan's body. They tested her blood, her hair and swabbed her mouth. Still nothing matched her sons' DNA. But Keegan had another idea.

Keegan told Uhl that she'd had a thyroid nodule removed a while back.

After an extensive search, doctors found a sample of her thyroid tissue saved in a nearby lab in the Boston area. According to Uhl, this piece of tissue was the key to solving the medical mystery.

The DNA that would match her sons' DNA could have been anywhere in Keegan's body. But her thyroid was where she matched her sons' genetic code.

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