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Septuplets' mom goes home

Second baby weaned off ventilator

November 23, 1997
Web posted at: 7:24 p.m. EST (0024 GMT)

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Four days after giving birth to the world's first surviving septuplets, Bobbi McCaughey went home from the hospital Sunday.

McCaughey slipped quietly out of the hospital, without media attention. Hospital officials said she wanted her departure to be private. She later walked slowly and unaided into the family's home in Carlisle, a small town about 10 miles from Des Moines.

Also Sunday, another of the babies, Joel, was taken off of a ventilator and upgraded to fair condition.

Shortly after the babies were born, Joel, who made his entrance into the world last, slipped into critical condition, suffering from blood loss. But he recovered from that setback and Sunday became the second baby to begin breathing completely on his own.

Kenneth, the first and strongest baby, came off his ventilator Friday and took food orally for the first time Saturday. The other five babies are listed in serious condition and are still being assisted by ventilators.

"Last week, we had very high expectations for these babies, and to this point, they have fulfilled all of those expectations remarkably well," Dr. Robert Shaw, director of the Iowa Methodist Medical Center, said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Dionne quints offer warning

The Dionne quints as infants

But amid all the media hoopla surrounding the McCaughey babies, the three surviving members of perhaps North America's most famous set of multiples, the Dionne quintuplets, warned the McCaughey parents against the perils of exploitation.

"Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products," wrote Annette, Cecile and Yvonne Dionne in an open letter published in the latest edition of Time magazine.

"We three would like you to know we feel a natural affinity and tenderness for your children. We hope your children receive more respect than we did."

The identical Dionne quints were born to a French-Canadian couple in 1934 in Corbeil, Ontario. They were separated from their parents for years and exhibited as a tourist attraction, earning millions of dollars for the Ontario provincial government.

Only three of the quintuplets, now 63, are still alive. They asked Time to print their letter, saying their lives were ruined by the exploitation they suffered.

The Dionnes warned the McCaugheys to "beware" of those who would "seek to exploit the growing fame of these children."

"If this letter changes the course of events for these newborns, then perhaps our lives will have served a higher purpose," they wrote.

McCaugheys deluged with offers

Reporters at church service

The McCaugheys have been deluged with offers to sell their story. Father Kenny McCaughey said the family is considering some of the offers as a way to offset the cost of raising the children, which would likely top $1 million by the time they are grown. The family is reportedly being encouraged to get an agent.

But the McCaugheys, devout Baptists, insist they want to maintain a degree of privacy and maintain a regular Christian home.

"I just want to live a normal life. I want these kids to have a normal family life," Kenny McCaughey said.

On Sunday, about 100 members of the Missionary Baptist Church in Carlisle, where the McCaugheys worship, gathered to celebrate the birth.

"Our hearts are so full this morning, we can hardly speak," said the Rev. Henry Hepworth of Innisfale, Alberta, who is Bobbi McCaughey's uncle.

"They're all delicate, but they are so perfect," Hepworth said. "There's not a bent nose or squashed head in the bunch."

More than a dozen reporters scribbled notes through the service, with reporters and camera crews converging on family and friends afterward. The family appeared to be growing weary of the media attention.

"We would like to get back to normal as soon as can be," said Peg Hepworth, Bobbi McCaughey's mother.

Correspondent Patty Davis contributed to this report.


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