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Octuplets born in Bellflower [UPDATED]

January 26, 2009 |  4:56 pm

A woman has given birth to octuplets at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Bellflower, hospital officials confirmed today.

Updated at 5:10 p.m.:  Two physicians who helped in the deliveries said they had planned in advance for the C-section deliveries but were expecting only seven babies. They got six boys and two girls.

“My eyes got to be the size of saucers,” Dr. Karen Maples said, when it became obvious there was an eighth child. “We just went on and delivered the babies.”

“The orchestrated delivery went off without a hitch,” added Dr. Harold Henry. “The babies are all doing well and the mom is also doing well. There were no complications from the surgery, to the best of my knowledge.”

Henry said that hospital physicians and their assistants practiced two dry runs ahead of time.  “We planned well, and it was well executed,” he said.

Maples said 46 people were involved in the deliveries.

“It was exciting, a little anxious,” she said. “But we were prepared.” She said the mother should be released in a week but that the babies would probably remain in the hospital for at least two months.

The six boys and two girls were born between 10:43 a.m. and 10:48 a.m, the doctors said. The babies each weighed between 1 pound and 15 ounces to 3 pounds and 4 ounces, the physicians said.

Updated at 5:50 p.m.: Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the fertility program at the USC Medical School, called the event “unbelievably rare. When people use fertility drugs, 80% even then are single births. The vast majority of the others are twins.”

Still, fertility experts consider the birth of more than two kids with fertility medication to be not a medical triumph, but “a serious complication,” Paulson said. “We do not ever intend to give someone octuplets.”

Usually, he said, births of this kind are brought on by fertility medication, not in-vitro fertilization. Often, during the medication, several of the mother’s eggs are fertilized. In most cases, Paulson said, the mother chooses to reduce the number of fertile eggs to two, “to make sure the two remaining babies will have the best chance at having good health. To have all those babies, the mother would choose to have selective reduction. Apparently the mother made the decision to carry all the eight babies to viability.”

Updated at 7:20 p.m.:

At a Monday evening news conference, the team leaders -- Maples, Henry, and Dr. Mandhir Gupta -- beamed like new parents. “It was a truly, truly amazing delivery,” Maples said. “We have been talking about this delivery for weeks on end. That’s why when we discovered the eighth, we were so well prepared.” The doctors will do predawn interviews today with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS’ “Morning Show,” NBC’s “Today” show and CNN. The doctors said the children, born nine weeks  premature, were in incubators in stable condition, as was their mother. The two girls and six boys weighed between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Five of the infants are breathing on their own. One has needed some help breathing, while two are attached to respirators.

KCAL Channel 9 reported that the babies were born today and quoted a doctor as saying they were “doing quite well.”

In 1998, the first known set of octuplets was born in the United States. The six girls and two boys were born in Houston. One of the babies later died. The others survived and recently celebrated their 10th birthdays.

Read the full Times story about the octuplets.

-- Sam Quinones, Jeff Gottlieb and Carlos V. Lozano

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