No dramatic change is good news, octuplet doctors say
Mom may leave hospital on WednesdayDecember 29, 1998
Web posted at: 11:31 a.m. EST (1631 GMT)
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HOUSTON (CNN) -- The seven surviving babies from what had been the world's only living octuplets spent a quiet night and showed no evidence of bleeding into their brains, a common concern in premature births, doctors said Tuesday. Their mother, while still weak, was recovering well enough so that she could be released from the hospital on Wednesday.
One of the eight babies born to Nkem Chukwu and her husband, Iyke Louis Udobi, died Sunday. The other seven remained in critical condition on Tuesday.
Three of them -- Ebuka, Ikem and Gorom -- remained on ventilators to assist their breathing. The other four were breathing with the help of supplemental oxygen, but without the need for a ventilator.
Gorom, the last baby out of Nkem Chukwu's womb during a December 20 Caesarean section, is recovering from abdominal surgery.
Odera, a girl born weighing just 10.3 ounces, died Sunday morning after failing to beat the odds against lung and heart failure.
The remaining five girls and two boys ranged in birth weight from 1 pound to 2 pounds. Doctors said it takes about two weeks for all newborns to add more weight.
Dr. Patti Savrick, the babies' pediatrician, said doctors were encouraged because there had been no dramatic change in the babies condition in the previous 24 hours.
"The babies all had a quiet night last night, which is really what we want. To us, 'quiet night' and 'no news' is good news."
"We have a very long, slow, gradual process of improvement in front of us," she said. "When you have big news (in cases involving critically ill patients), it's almost always bad."
Because the babies were born more than two months premature, doctors said there was concern about intraventricular hemorrhage -- bleeding into the brain. However, both Savrick and Dr. Leonard Weisman, chief of neonatalogy at Texas Children's Hospital, said the babies had normal head ultrasounds.
Bleeding would have indicated the babies were vulnerable to future developmental problems such as cerebral palsy, Savrick said. She added the babies could still have problems but have cleared an important hurdle.
Weisman said the infants' survival odds now could be generally estimated at about 92 percent, up from earlier estimates of 85 percent. Bleeding in the brain is expected in about one in four babies at the octuplets' size and stage of development, he said.
Chukwu's obstetrician, Dr. Brian Kirshon, said the 27-year- old mother, who is in stable condition at neighboring St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, was weak but "making steady, solid progress."
"I'm anticipating that she will be discharged (on Wednesday)," he said.
The mother has been able to touch her children, but because of their delicate condition, she can not yet hold them, doctors said. It will be several months before the babies can leave the hospital.
The family, which has received gifts, cards and letters from around the world, said there was only one correct address for sending future correspondence. Hospital officials gave that address as:
Chukwu Family Fund 6900 Fannin St. Suite 440 Houston, Texas 77030
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