Monday 23 September 2019

Joy of six: birth of sextuplets makes Irish medical history

Lesley-Anne Henry and Denise Clarke

A MUM has made history by giving birth to Ireland's first sextuplets.

The babies -- four girls and two boys weighing between 1lb 7oz and 2lbs 2oz -- were delivered at the Royal Victoria Hospital's Jubilee Maternity Unit in Belfast at 11.19am yesterday morning.

The miracle birth -- the biggest ever recorded in Ireland -- took just five minutes to complete by Caesarean section.

The babies, who arrived 14 weeks early at just 26 weeks, are all in intensive care at the Royal's neo natal unit.

Dr Clifford Mayes, the consultant neonatologist who led the team, said the infants were doing "as well" as could be expected.

Their mother is also said to be in a "very stable" condition.

As yet, no information about the babies' parents has been released. However, it is known the pregnancy was not the result of any fertility treatment.

The birth of sextuplets is rare, and occurs in only around one of 4.5 million pregnancies worldwide.

The world's first surviving set of all-girl sextuplets was born in the UK in November 1983 when Janet Walton gave birth to six girls in Liverpool.

There have only been two cases of quintuplets born in Ireland. In August 2001, Kevin and Veronica Cassidy from Bridgetown, Co Wexford, became parents of quintuplets Conor, Cian, Rory, Amy and Derbhail. And a year later Noel and Rhonda Loughran from Co Tyrone became parents of quintuplets.

Last night Dr Mayes said: "It is an extraordinary thing to have witnessed, but you are also struck by the fact that there are six babies in intensive care. This is both a happy and potentially difficult time.

"In a multiple birth like this it would be impossible to go full term. We would have been expecting the mother to go about 30 weeks at best.

"All I am able to say is that the babies are as well as we would expect. They are in intensive care."

Dr Mayes paid tribute to his hospital colleagues -- a team of more than 30 medics had supported the delivery which had been weeks in the planning for the hospital.

Lead midwife Patricia Denvir said both parents had been "composed" throughout the birth and had been able to spend time with their newborn children before the youngsters were admitted to intensive care.


She said: "It was a very stressful situation both for our staff and also for the parents. But it was a situation that went very well for us. It was calm, the teams worked very well together, we all knew what we were doing."

Ms Denvir said both parents were "very composed and they dealt with it very well".

"It was a very emotional time for everyone but it was also a very stressful time. Certainly the adrenaline rushes as it does in any situation of this sort."

Liz Bannon, co-director of women's services at the Royal said the hospital hoped to keep all six babies together. She also said that contingency plans had been put in place to ease the pressure on the Jubilee's neonatal unit.

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