January 3, 2007

‘Ferrill Five’ Quintuplets Doing Fine


ST. LOUIS - It has taken an oversized effort to deliver and care for the quintuplets already known as the "Ferrill Five." Born to parents Pete and Jenny Ferrill of Danville, Ill., on Dec. 21, each weighed a little more than 3 pounds.

All are doing well, though the babies are expected to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital for several more weeks.

About 100 doctors, nurses and other staffers helped deliver the two girls and three boys at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Hospital staff said Wednesday that they practiced the deliveries ahead of time, using bags of saline as stand-ins for the babies. Staffers were assigned to teams in the operating room for specific babies; from there they were immediately brought to a stabilizing nursery next door.

Quintuplet births have been recorded about 200 times in the United States, said Dr. Michael Paul, the obstetrician who delivered the quints, with about 745 on record in the world.

Just one girl, Irelyn, still remains on a ventilator. The children could go home at the end of February or early March, doctors said.

"Just being able to see them and touch them is a miracle unto itself," said Jenny Ferrill, 29.

She, her husband, and dozens of hospital workers wore T-shirts that read "Team Quint," with the letter "i" repeated five times - two of them pink, three of them blue - at a news conference about the births.

The Ferrills said at first they thought they were having twins, then four children. When they got the word during an ultrasound examination that Jenny Ferrill was carrying five children, it was mind-boggling, Pete Ferrill said.

The couple decided to use fertility treatments after two previous miscarriages and consider all five children to be blessings.

"It was totally amazing that each one was ours, and all a part of us," the 33-year-old father said.

Jenny Ferrill was hospitalized Oct. 30 at Barnes-Jewish and remained on bed rest for weeks to reach her 31st week of pregnancy, the time doctors determined to be best for her health and that of the babies.

At the news conference, the hospital gave the parents five one-piece outfits, each personalized with a baby's name. The parents, in return, gave their doctor a framed painting of a child, created by a relative.

Word-of-mouth and the Internet already are providing updates in Danville, a city of about 30,000 residents about 200 miles northeast of St. Louis.

"They look beautiful," said friend Mindy Keller, who has been receiving updates on the family's additions from Jenny's mother and checking a Web site for photos of the little ones.

Friends are discussing a schedule to provide help with girls Irelyn Kadyn, Kieran Skye and boys Landyn Konner, Layne Mykel and Drayden Karter.

They hope to take turns dropping off hot meals for the parents, along with diapers and baby wipes, Keller said.

The Ferrills said they are grateful for the support. "So many people have offered to do laundry for us, or cook, or rock babies," Jenny Ferrill said. She said they'll rely on some outside help, but plan to limit the number of people to protect the health of the premature babies.

Pete Ferrill, a social worker, said he'll continue at his job, but said he just completed a master's degree in industrial organization psychology and may find new work. Despite the challenges, he said the family will find the money to support itself.

The couple also said they're open to having more children, possibly through adoption.


On the 'Net:

The Ferrill Five: http://www.ferrillfive.com