Everyone in a mountainous village in northern Vietnam has been talking about the woman who delivered her twins 30 days apart.
An official medical explanation has yet to be offered, but Dr Ma Trung Nghia, deputy director of Hoang Su Phi District Hospital in Ha Giang Province, said officials living close to the woman have verified that her story is true.
Lu Thi Bien, 27, of the La Chi ethnic group, delivered both children at home, the son on May 4 and the daughter on June 5.
Nghia examined her some time between those deliveries, during which she reported no postpartum discharge.
She also brought along the boy, then 12 days old and suffering jaundice.
But Nghia said he was suspicious about the boy, and had to ask health officials in the village and commune levels to check if Bien had taken someone’s baby and claimed it was hers.
They came back certain it was hers.
After the birth of her son, Then Van Chuyen, her husband took Bien to the hospital because her abdomen continued to look pregnant. She felt pains and a baby moving inside.
The baby girl was named Then Thi May.
Lu Thi Kim, her sister-in-law and the midwife in both deliveries, said she’s never seen such a case.
“I was surprised too and could not believe it, but it’s true.”
Tran Duc Quy, director of the Ha Giang Health Department, said it could be a case of fraternal twins with two amnions and two placentas.
Leading doctors from around the country said they had never heard of such a delivery in Vietnam.
Vu Ba Quyet, director of the Central Obstetrics Hospital, said he has heard international news about twins delivered on different days, but such a case had not happened in Vietnam for during his 30-year career.
Maria Jones-Elliott of Ireland set a world record last year as her twin baby girls were delivered 87 days apart.
The odd circumstances of the delivery might also save the family from the punishment of 200 kilograms of rice for violating demographic agreement with the commune authorities. The agreement limits her to two children, but the twins now made it four.
Luc Van Chung, a commune official, said Bien is a special case now so the commune will reconsider the penalty, or at least ask locals to help them.