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Thursday, November 20, 1997 Published at 19:37 GMT


Miracle septuplets amaze US doctors

Grandfather Bob Hepworth celebrates

Septuplets born by caesarian section in Des Moines , Iowa, are astonishing doctors by their progress. Their mother, Bobbi McCaughey, who had fertility treatment, is also reported to be comfortable.

The four boys and three girls - Kenneth, Brandon, Nathaniel, Joel, Alexis, Natalie and Kelsey - are only the second set of septuplets to be born alive. Doctors say they are a miracle.

If all survive, they will be the world's only known set of living septuplets.

[ image: Bobbie McCaughey, her husband Kenny, and their other daughter, Mikayla]
Bobbie McCaughey, her husband Kenny, and their other daughter, Mikayla
Bobbi, 29, gave birth at Iowa Methodist Medical Centre after 31 weeks of pregnancy. The operation involved more than 40 medical specialists.

Father Kenny, 27, talking to reporters in a local church, said he was ecstatic. He thanked God, the doctors and the people of his home town, Carlisle, Iowa.

[ image: A delighted father]
A delighted father
"This is one of the most blessed events that I have ever encountered. I'd like to say that Bobbi is doing very well and we're just, like, I say, just trusting in God to provide."

America has been gripped by this good-news story. Kenny McCaughey faced scores of journalists eager to extract every last detail from the world's only father of septuplets. It prompted him to make an appeal for privacy.

"The big fear is that this does not turn into a big show," he said. "This is my family, that's what I want it to be and it's just going to be us, and we're not on for display."

But the deluge of public interest has its positive side. Kenny McCaughey's boss at a local Chevrolet garage announced he was giving the family a new van and neighbours said they would build a new house.

Up to 30,000 free nappies have also been promised, along with a year of groceries. And throughout Carlisle, Iowa, people are putting their names on a list of helpers to provide round-the-clock support when the babies are home, perhaps early in the New Year.

The birth weights of the four boys and three girls ranged between 2lbs 5oz to a little over 3lbs 4oz (0.9 - 1.5kg).

Mother and father had rejected suggestions they should abort some of the foetuses to improve the chances of the rest surviving.

The couple, who are Baptists, met in Bible college. They have one other child, Mikayla, aged two.

Septuplets do not occur naturally in humans. The last such birth in the United States occurred in 1985, and only three survived.

In January, severely underweight septuplets were born to a couple in Mexico. One was stillborn and the other six later died.

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