Septuplets Born in D.C. Hospital Critical But Doing Well
July 13, 2001 (Washington) -- A lucky seven babies beat being
born on Friday the 13th by a handful of minutes -- all to the same mother.
"We are not out of the woods,'' Craig Winkel, MD,
cautioned. But "it is a great start.''
Weighing little more than two pounds each, America's first
septuplets since 1997 lay in critical condition Friday at Georgetown University
Hospital in Washington D.C., attended by teams of doctors and nurses watching
their every breath and movement.
The five boys and two girls -- known for now as Baby A to Baby
G -- were born 12 weeks prematurely to a woman who had taken hormones to treat
infertility. Six of the babies were on ventilators to help them breathe. The
smallest, a girl, is breathing on her own.
In a press conference Friday at the hospital, Siva Subramanian,
MD, head of Georgetown's neonatal unit, said "the babies will remain
critical over the next few days, but they have done very well to this
The babies weighed between 2.002 and 2.42 pounds each -- a
critically low weight that carries high risk -- and each measured 13 to 14
inches long. They were delivered by cesarean section in a three-minute period
that began at 11:25 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Winkel said, "The second they were out ... they were out
the door and in the [neonatal intensive care unit]. So the mother has not seen
the babies yet."
Doctors would not identify the mother, except to say that she
is Muslim. Because of her religion, she chose not to abort any fetuses during
pregnancy even though that option was offered as a way to improve the chances
for the remaining babies to live, doctors said.
"Although the mother hasn't seen her babies in person, we
took photographs of the babies and took them over to the mother ... so she
could see each one and clutch them to her breast," said nurse Dana Adamson
at the press conference. The mother is expected to see the babies later
The woman went into spontaneous labor at about 8 p.m. Thursday,
with medical teams standing by. The delivery was attended by about 25 doctors
and nurses, with a similar number ready in the neonatal intensive care room a
few steps away.
"It was almost like launching a rocket ship in terms of the
teamwork,'' said Dr. Richard Goldberg, hospital vice president.
Subramanian agrees that a lot of preparation was required for
the birth -- not just in terms of technology, but in preparing the parents for
the awesome responsibility of taking care of seven babies.
The father also attended the delivery, doctors said.
Babies born with similar birth weights have an 85% to 90%
chance of survival, Winkel said. However, he said these figures apply to single
or twin births and additional risks are associated with septuplets.