Friday, December 14, 2012

Nwando Nwizu Gives Birth To McKinney Hospital First Set Of Triplets

Thousands of babies are born every day worldwide. Hundreds are born daily in DFW, and dozens every month at Medical Center of McKinney.

Rarely - once in the last 13 months - are three born from the same mother at the McKinney hospital. Nwando Nwizu gave birth to the facility's first triplets Wednesday.

"This mother had done her research and came all the way over from West Africa," Dr. Alok Jain, in charge of caring for the babies post-pregnancy, said of Nwizu. "She told me she looked at programs in Asia, in Europe...and she chose us."
The native Nigerian came to the United States in September, initially just to better prepare for her children's arrival. Baby clothes and other resources are cheaper and more readily available here, she said.

Her sister, who's lived in America for 12 years, works at MCM. After Nwizu found out she was having triplets, she decided to have them there.

"You go from being excited to overwhelmed to 'Oh my God' back to happy," she said. "My husband and I had been trying for 7 years, so we were like...three is better than six. At least after this, we know we're done."

Sodechi, Sochikaima and Jidechukwu were born Wednesday afternoon, the 35th week of Nwizu's term. Each baby was delivered one minute after the other.

The hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) went from level II to level III capabilities last November, enabling it to care for such premature pregnancies, those even two months ahead of schedule. The hospital's NICU staff found out about the triplets' impending arrival about three months ago.

The hospital is used to 65-80 deliveries a month, with 10-20 NICU babies, said Charlotte Womack, MCM's manager of women's services. They've had plenty of twins, but never triplets.

"We were absolutely thrilled," Womack said of news of the soon-to-be trio. "We went into plan mode immediately. Everybody had their position and their job, and it just went very smoothly. It was calm, just a wonderful experience."

Dr. Gerard Luciani took over care of Nwizu about 14 weeks ago. He had delivered two previous sets of triplets. At 33 weeks into Nwizu's term, her uterus was five inches above the size of a full-term pregnant woman's uterus, Luciani said.

"After about the 35th week of pregnancy with triplets, they're prone to having worse outcomes," he said. "The risk...just goes up remarkably, so the goal is to get to the 35th week if you can, and (Wednesday) she called and was contracting at the 35th week to the day. It was necessary we delivered when we did because the first baby's placenta had pulled away from the wall of the uterus and that first little girl had swallowed quite a bit of blood.

"That was not a sustainable situation; in hours or a day that baby wouldn't have survived, so we're just very fortunate."

Now, the two baby girls and one boy are laying comfortably in the NICU, with their own monitored stations - designed specially to supplant their mother until they're at full strength in a few weeks.

Nwizu's husband, in McKinney for some of the pregnancy, returned to Nigeria before the births and is set to return for Christmas, around when his children were due.

"At first he was overwhelmed; obviously men are going to be thinking about the money side of things," Nwizu said. "But he's ecstatic. He's telling everyone."

As are many MCM staff members. Triplets are a fitting milestone for the level III NICU.

"I feel like I have the best job in the world," Jain said. "It's rewarding to see the babies respond to what you do. And it was teamwork; it does require special people. We're very fortunate to have this medical care in McKinney."

Nwizu is already up and about when nurses allow it, eager to check on her little ones every chance she gets. She'll soon leave the hospital to finish preparations for when they can also come home.

Once doctors give the go-ahead, she'll return to Nigeria with her children, appreciative of the people who cherished their first weeks in this world.

They'll forever be MCM's first triplets.

"It really makes me proud of the medical care we have in this country," Luciani said. "A level III NICU that has a neonatologist (and) a high-frequency oscillating ventilator - that is something that doesn't exist in most of the rest of the world. Not everyone's having triplets, but it's nice to know it's there for anybody who needs it."

Chris Beattie/Star Local News, Mckinney
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