The bustling operating theatre fell silent. Doctors and nurses stared at each other, stunned. And, as he stood at his wife’s bedside and looked into the eyes of his newborn child for the first time, new father Francis Tshibangu’s joy turned to disbelief. “I was clutching Arlette’s hand as they lifted Daniel from her,” Francis says.
“He was covered in blood… but then I saw his skin was white and his hair was blond. My jaw dropped open.”
In a million-to-one quirk of nature, Francis and Arlette, who have no white relations, had given birth to a white baby. The genetic mix-up has baffled experts, who say Daniel is NOT an albino with no skin pigment – not to mention the parents, who already have a two-year-old black son, Seth.
Francis adds: “My first thought was ‘Wow, is he really mine?’
“I was too stunned to speak and I could see the doctors looking at each other, thinking the baby couldn’t be mine.
“Then Arlette and I looked at each other and smiled and I knew he was.
“I have been with my wife for three years so there was never a question of infidelity, but seeing his white skin was a surprise to say the least.
“The initial reaction from the nurses must have been that Arlette had had an affair. Their faces were a picture, but then I’m sure mine was too.
“I’m sure they were thinking ‘oh my gosh… what has been going on here and what’s he going to do?’
“While the nurses were marvelling at Daniel’s blond hair, neither Arlette nor I said a word. We were just in too much shock at his white skin.
“When I bent down and kissed him I got a better look at his features and could see he looked just like me and Arlette. He has my nose and my wife’s lips.
“All we can say is that Daniel is our miracle and, though we are shocked by his white skin, we feel very blessed – he’s beautiful.”
Fertility experts describe the birth as “extraordinary” and can’t explain whythe couple have one white child and one black child. Proudly cuddling her son, Arlette says: “The reaction in the operating theatre was one of shocked silence, myself included.
“I stared at Daniel with my eyes wide. The looks on the faces of the doctors and nurses said it all… everyone was wondering why I had a white baby.
“But as the nurse put his little pink body in my arms I bonded with him instantly. When I looked at him all I felt was love.
“Like any mum who has just given birth, my main concern was that he was healthy, which he is.
“When we pictured having a second baby, I guess we just imagined a mini Seth… who is black just like us.
“It is just an amazing twist of nature. I don’t know why these things happen. All you can do is take life as it comes, these things are God’s choice.
“There was a fleeting second of worry but I love my husband and I know he loves and trusts me so I knew it would be OK.I have never cheated on Francis and I never will.
“I was in shock too when I saw Daniel and I think that was evident from my expression.”
And the couple have met with puzzled glances ever since Daniel’s arrival, at Leicester Royal Infirmary on March 4. Francis, 28, a sociology student, says: “We never try to cover Daniel up to avoid the looks as that wouldn’t be fair on him.
“But we dread him crying while we are in a shop or on the street. You can see people looking at us thinking ‘What are that black couple doing with that white baby?’ I am sure there are a few people who think we have stolen the baby.
“Just the other day we were on the train with Seth and Daniel and I could see out of the corner of my eye the man opposite staring at us. Every time I looked up he would quickly look down at his newspaper but I could see he was trying to figure it out. Sometimes people are much more open about it though, and on the same journey two old women were talking about us pretty loudly – though I think they thought they were whispering.
“They gestured over to us and wondered why Daniel was with us. It can be very awkward. Arlette in particular is very shy so doesn’t like all the attention. But while Daniel may be white with blond hair, he looks exactly like us. He is the spitting image of his big brother Seth, just a different colour.”
And Francis, who is originally from Congo but has lived in Britain for 10 years, said he and Arlette, 25, were nervous about having to tell their families the good news.