Saturday, September 24, 2005

Congratulations, Jennell Dickens!

Congratulations! What a pregnancy for a 22 year-old woman! I wish the best in their lives and health.


Quintuplets Born at University of Maryland Medical Center

BALTIMORE (Sept. 23) - Jennell Dickens is single, petite, and 22 years old.

On Wednesday, she became the mother of quintuplets.

"A lot of people didn't think I would make it this far," said the cheerful new mother during a press conference Friday at the University of Maryland Medical Center, her face glowing with pride.

The babies - a boy and four girls - are the first set of quintuplets born at the Baltimore hospital in more than 30 years and only the second set born in Maryland since the new millineum, health officials said.

The hospital has established the Dickens Quintuplets Fund to collect donations for the babies.

Doctors said the quintuplets, born 10 weeks early, are doing well and are being monitored closely.

"The first baby came out screaming and hollering," said Dickens, an administrative assistant at the hospital's division of emergency medicine. "After the initial shock was over, everything else was okay."

The babies ranged in weight from one-pound, 12 ounces to two-pounds, 13 ounces. Together, they weighed more than 11 pounds.

"It is truly remarkable for a woman to carry quintuplets past 30 weeks," said Dr. Hugh Mighty, who delivered all five babies and led a team of 30 specialists. "The fact that Ms. Dickens was able to do that enabled the babies to grow bigger and has improved their chances of survival."

Dickens had been at the hospital since July 12 to allow doctors to monitor her progress.

"The delivery went very smoothly and Ms. Dickens was comfortable and awake so that she could see each baby being born," said Dr. Andrew Malinow, a member of the delivery team.

Dickens said she found out she was having quintuplets nine weeks into her pregnancy when she went for her first prenatal visit and the doctor noticed her uterus was up higher than normal. The next day, an ultrasound reading showed she was carrying five babies.

"I just cried," said Dickens. "At that point I didn't know what to expect. It's a lot to take on. I just wish for the best of health for them."

Older sister, Sharita, 23, was in shock when she got the call at work that her sister was having quintuplets.

"I went from sitting in the chair to being on the floor," she said. "I'm just excited that they're here."

Sharita has two children of her own, ages two and five, but said, "They'll definitely be loved. There is plenty of love in our family."

Her mother Floryn said she thought her daughter was joking when she received the news.

"I just laughed," said the grandmother of seven. "But, once I saw the sonogram I just couldn't believe it."

Dickens, who was presented five baby t-shirts, is expected to released from the hospital over the weekend.

Neonatologist Dr. Rose Viscardi said the newborns may be able to go home within the next two months, provided they continue to do well.

"Right now they're great. It's too early to see if there will be long term problems."

The births took two-and-a-half minutes. Each baby was assigned their own group of doctors immediately following their births. There were four other births at the hospital on that day, as well.

"The initial hurdle is making sure that each baby is breathing own their own," said Viscardi, who noted one baby was placed on a ventilator shortly after birth. "We need to also make sure they are able to maintain temperature."

Pictures of each baby, wearing a white hat with letters "A" through "E" to distinguish identity, were on display at the press conference at the hospital. All are currently in incubators.

They've been named JaMir Amare, Si'ani Ritay, NaRae Dimetria, Jade and Rayne Anye.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the medical center is the largest in the state and is part of the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

09/23/05 14:31 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.