Hi, five: Quintuplets go back to Rotunda for 18th birthday
Ireland's only quintuplets returned to the neonatal ward in Dublin's Rotunda Hospital to celebrate their 18th birthday.
The birth of the 'Famous Five', Conor, Cian, Rory, Amy and Dearbhail Cassidy, in 2001 was national news.
To mark their milestone birthday, they revisited the hospital and met the midwives and doctors who helped with their high-risk delivery. They were presented with a giant birthday cake and balloons to mark the occasion.
The five siblings were born at just over 25 weeks' gestation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and weighed between 1lb 6oz to 1lb 11oz at birth.
Returning to the place of their birth was an extremely moving experience for mother Veronica Cassidy.
"It was very emotional," she said. "I was full of tears. I'm so proud of them and everything they've done. We didn't know 18 years ago that we would be here. When it was confirmed that I was carrying quintuplets we were told the chances of them all being ok was very slim. So it really was a miracle."
Veronica and husband Kevin, from Bridgetown, Co Wexford, were originally told she was carrying just one child. At the following scan, consultants told them it could be twins or perhaps triplets. Then at the 11-week scan they confirmed it was quintuplets.
"I was stunned but so grateful," she said.
Born on August 16, the children remained in hospital until December of that year.
Cian Cassidy said revisiting the ward was humbling. "You're just thinking, 'Jesus, if it wasn't for all these people we wouldn't be here'."
Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, said: "Any baby to survive in a quintuplet pregnancy is a success but for all five to survive and survive in a healthy manner is extremely unusual."
Multiple births in Ireland have increased over the past 10 years. There is a 95pc survival rate for twins, 70pc for triplets and 50pc for quadruplets. "There has been a 30pc increase in the number of successful twin births in the last two decades, which is due to wider availability of assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, and older maternal ages at conception," Dr Malone said.