Lydia Fairchild, a Washington resident, was pregnant with her third child when she and the father of her children separated. When she applied for welfare support in 2002, she was requested to provide DNA evidence that Townsend was the father of her children. While the results showed Townsend was certainly the father of the children, the DNA tests indicated that Lydia was not their mother. The children were taken into care until the mess could be cleared up.
Thanks to a rare medical condition, she found out that pregnancy was not enough to prove motherhood. The third childbirth was watched by a court appointed witness, and blood samples from apparent mother and child were immediately drawn and tested. Two weeks later, DNA tests indicated that she was not the mother of that child either.
A breakthrough came when a lawyer for the prosecution found an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about a similar case in Boston involving a woman named Karen Keegan. He realised that Fairchild's case might also be caused by chimerism. Fairchild's prosecutors suggested this possibility to her lawyers, who arranged further testing. As in Keegan's case, DNA samples were taken from members of the extended family. The DNA of Fairchild's children matched that of Fairchild's mother to the extent expected of a grandmother. They also found that, although the DNA in Fairchild's skin and hair did not match her children's, the DNA from a cervical smear test did match. Fairchild was carrying two different sets of DNA, the defining characteristic of a chimera.
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