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, and saw the babies feature as tiny guests on The Late Late Show.
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 week’s 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 who was “full of tears”
“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,” she said.
“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 her husband Kevin were originally told that 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 16th, the children remained in hospital until December of that year.
Veronica said while it was stressful time in her life, seeing the staff take such good care of her children gave her strength.
Her son Cian Cassidy may not remember his birth, but he will be eternally grateful to the staff at the Rotunda.
“You’re just thinking ‘Jesus if it wasn’t for all these people we wouldn’t be here.”
Talking about being one of five he said.
“It’s all we’ve ever know so it is our normal. We get on - most of the time”.
Next year all the siblings will sit their Leaving Cert examination.
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,” Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Hospital said.
However, the number of triplet, quadruplet and quintuplet births has halved, due to more effective controls on assisted reproductive technologie.
“With multiple births, there is a 95pc survival rate for twins, 70pc for triplets and 50pc for quadruplets. It is clear however that quintuplets are very rare today, with the Cassidy quintuplets being the only set in Ireland, and the healthy survival rate of all five babies in a quintuplet pregnancy is quite exceptional.”