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Lydia Fairchild fell pregnant and had two babies. Years later, she was told they weren't hers.

Mamamia's Extraordinary Stories series deep dives into the kind of tales you will keep thinking about long after you've read them. From unexplained mysteries to moments that have changed history, Extraordinary Stories will take you down the rabbit hole and make you never want to leave. 

In December 2002, Lydia Fairchild was told that the two children that she had given birth to couldn't possibly be her own.

"I know I carried these kids, I know I gave birth to these kids," the US-based woman told Only Human.

"I was so confused and scared."

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It all began when Lydia Fairchild, then 26 years old, was in the process of separating from her partner, Jamie Townsend.

The couple's relationship had been rocky for several years, and it wasn't their first separation.

But this time around, Lydia - who was pregnant with the couple's third child - was struggling. 

As the couple went their separate ways, Lydia applied for financial assistance to help take care of her young children.

In order to apply for government assistance in Washington State at the time, both Lydia and Jamie had to be tested to prove their relation to their children.

It should have been a routine DNA test. But before long, Lydia was asked to attend the office of the Washington State prosecutor to go over the results.

Initially, Lydia assumed that it was just a normal part of the process.

But as soon as she walked into the office, the mood changed.

Lydia Fairchild and her child. Image: YouTube/Only Human. 

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"I was sitting by the door in a chair and they just stared at me. I asked them, 'So, what'd we get?'" Lydia told Only Human.

"They told me, 'He's 99 per cent the father... but there's a problem, there's no way that you're the mother,'" she continued.

"At first I kind of laughed. I was like, 'What are you talking about?' But they were serious. They were staring me down. They asked me, 'Are you Lydia Fairchild? Who are you really? Where did you get these kids from? Did your sister have these children and you're taking them?'"

The DNA results were extremely unusual. 

Although Lydia had fallen pregnant and given birth to two babies, the test showed no match between her DNA and that of her children.

Lydia was not only denied financial assistance for her children, but she was now the subject of a criminal investigation. She called her parents in a panic - she was in danger of losing her two children as authorities suspected that she was committing welfare fraud by acting as a surrogate mother to the children.

"I thought she was joking but then she started crying on the phone. I said 'Oh, it's got to be a mistake. I was there when the kids were born. I saw them come out. I held them in my arms, you know,'" Lydia's mother, Carol Fairchild, told ABC News.

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The family were DNA tested at least three more times. But each time, the test claimed that Lydia was not the mother of her children.

"I felt like I was the only one in the whole world trying to fight for my kids, and nobody was listening to me," she told Only Human.

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"Every day felt like the last day that I was going to see them."

When Lydia later gave birth to her third child, a court officer was present in the delivery room to immediately take blood samples from both Lydia and her newborn baby for DNA testing.

"They took DNA from the baby and myself after birth, and it came back that there was no way possible that the baby was mine," Fairchild told ABC News.

Although the court officer witnessed the birth, the DNA evidence told a different story. Now, Lydia risked losing her two young children as well as her newborn baby.

Then, Lydia's lawyer, Alan Tindell, made a discovery.

Another American woman, Karen Keegan, had a remarkably similar story. 

Karen Keegan and her three sons. Image: YouTube/Only Human. 

When Karen needed a kidney transplant, she hoped that one of her three sons might be a match. But DNA testing showed that while all three men were brothers, two of them were not biologically her sons.

"Any child from a mum and dad should inherit genes from both the mum and the dad. In Keegan's case, it appeared that her two boys hadn't inherited any of her DNA," Lynne Uhl, a transfusion medicine specialist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said.

"We knew this woman very well and knew without any doubt that she was the mother of these kids. That prompted us to look more carefully for an explanation for this finding."

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After a number of tests, it was discovered that Karen had a rare condition called chimerism – a condition that has only been recorded less than 40 times worldwide. 

A genetic chimerism is a single organism with at least two genetically distinct types of cells. Put simply, a chimerism is a person who was meant to be a twin.

"We hypothesised that two eggs were fertilised and very early on fused together. It wasn't that there actually was a twin that went fairly far along in development then was reabsorbed, but more likely that very early on the two fertilised eggs fused together," Uhl explained.

After Tindell discovered Karen Keegan's case, Lydia underwent further testing.

And finally, after a series of tests, it was confirmed that Lydia had chimerism, meaning she was carrying two different sets of DNA. 

Lydia Fairchild. Image: YouTube/Only Human. 

In Lydia's case, the DNA of her twin had accumulated in her womb, meaning that her children had not shown up as her own on the DNA tests.

Finally, Lydia had proof that her three children were her own and the case was dismissed.

"I probably wouldn't have my kids today if they didn't discover [Karen Keegan's] situation," Lydia said.

"They wouldn't have known to even consider me as a chimera."

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Feature Image: YouTube/Only Human.