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Country's 2nd set of septuplets born

Nov. 20, 1997

Country's 2nd set

of septuplets born

The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa -- An Iowa seamstress gave birth to four boys and three girls on Wednesday, listening intently as doctors told her the condition and sex of each child. It was only the second set of septuplets known to be born alive.

One boy was in critical condition, and his siblings were listed as serious.

Bobbi McCaughey's septuplets, born two months early by Caesarean section, weighed from 2 pounds, 5 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces. A medical team of 40 specialists helped with the delivery.

'All the babies are so well-grown, so well-developed, it just strikes me as a miracle,' said Dr. Paula Mahone, who helped perform the delivery at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.

It was only the second such birth in the United States. There are no known surviving sets of septuplets in the world.

News of the delivery came from grandfather Bob Hepworth, who said his daughter was resting comfortably. 'I'm probably one of the proudest grandfathers in this country at this moment,' Hepworth said.

His namesake, Kenneth Robert, was born at 12:48 p.m. weighing 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Alexis May came next at 12:49 p.m., weighing 2 pounds, 11 ounces, followed by Natalie Sue, 12:50 p.m., 2 pounds, 10 ounces; Kelsey Ann, 12:51 p.m., 2 pounds, 5 ounces; Brandon

James, 12:52 p.m., 3 pounds, 3 ounces; Nathanial Roy, 12:53 p.m, 2

pounds, 14 ounces; and Joel Steven, 12:54 p.m., 2 pounds, 15

ounces.

Joel was in critical condition, his siblings in serious

condition. Mrs. McCaughey was awake during the birth, and doctors

told her the condition of each child.

``I would ask that all believers across the world join us in

praying for Bobbi and for the babies that their health will

continue and only improve,'' Hepworth said.

From the delivery room, the babies were taken to an adjacent

stabilization room, where their conditions were assessed, and then

to the neonatal unit. They will be cared for at Blank Children's

Hospital.

Mrs. McCaughey (pronounced McCoy) was in her 31st week of

pregnancy, at least three weeks beyond the point doctors consider

viable for fetuses. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.

The decision to proceed with the delivery was made Tuesday

night. Mrs. McCaughey's due date was mid-January, but she had been

hospitalized since Oct. 15.

Mrs. McCaughey, who left her seamstress job before giving birth

to her first child nearly two years ago, had been taking the

fertility drug Pergonal. The drug had been prescribed because she

and her husband, Kenny, had trouble conceiving their daughter,

Mikayla.

The birth of septuplets is rare and serious complications are

common. The only other known set to be born alive was in September

in Saudi Arabia. Six of those children died, according to hospital

officials there.

The last set of septuplets born in the United States was in May

1985 in Orange, Calif., to Samuel and Patricia Frustaci. In her

28th week of pregnancy, one was stillborn, three died within 19

days of birth and the remaining three had medical and developmental

problems.

Multiple births typically do not go the full term, but doctors

wanted Mrs. McCaughey's pregnancy to continue for as long as

possible.

In the tiny town of Carlisle, about 10 miles southeast of Des

Moines, many of the 3,200 residents gathered around televisions to

watch the developments Wednesday.

``It's a double double double blessing plus one,'' said Kay

Thompson, a next-door neighbor of the McCaugheys.

Mrs. McCaughey and her husband, a billing clerk at an auto

dealership, were advised early in the pregnancy that aborting some

of the fetuses would increase the chance of survival for the

others.

But McCaughey, 27, said their religious beliefs would not allow

any of the fetuses to be aborted.

``God gave us those kids,'' he said last month. ``He wants us to

raise them.''

AP-DS-11-19-97 1814EST<

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