Octuplets are a blessing, says mother

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The Independent Online
THE MOTHER of the world's first successfully delivered octuplets was released from hospital in Texas yesterday, saying she felt great, despite the stresses of a highly traumatic pregnancy and the anxious struggle for survival that has claimed the life of her smallest offspring.

"It wasn't easy," Nkem Chukwu said at St Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston in her first public appearance, "but I did it for the love I have for them."

Ms Chukwu has spent the past three months in hospital. She refused doctors' offers to abort one, or two, of the foetuses to improve the chances of the others. "I've never seen such a word in my Bible," she said. "I wasn't even going to give it a thought, a second thought." At a press conference, sitting in a wheelchair, she told reporters to stand up and give thanks to God for her successful delivery. "I am blessed. I thank the whole world for their support and prayers," she said.

For six weeks she was confined to bed, and for three weeks she lay with her head tipped to the floor at a sharp angle. The first of her children - two boys and six girls - was born normally on 8 December, and the others by Caesarean section on 20 December.

The smallest, a girl named Odera who weighed just 10.3oz, died last Sunday. The heaviest child weighed 26oz at birth.

The children are still in a "critical" condition at the specialist neonatology unit at Texas Children's Hospital, also in Houston. Three are on ventilators, but the others arebreathing on their own. An ultrasound revealed that they had no bleeding or cysts in their brains. It was described as "dramatic good news" since that would be a sign of future neurological problems. Doctors put their survival at about 92 per cent and they are likely to stay in hospital until their normal due date, around 1 April.

Donations have been flooding in to help the family. At the family's request no photographs or videotapes of the babies have been released.