A young mother who gave birth to Ireland’s first-ever sextuplets was today promised plenty of support when she eventually returns home to her small rural community.
Nuala Conway from the Dunamore area of Co. Tyrone gave birth to four girls and two boys at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital.
Yesterday’s successful Caesarean section birth – which involved 30 medical staff – was 14 weeks early and the babies are now in intensive care.
The infants weighed between 1lb 7oz and 2lb 2oz and their condition is described as being “as good as could be expected”.
Nuala and her husband Austin, who were married in 2006, have appealed for their privacy to be respected.
Medical staff held a press conference yesterday, but all requests for interviews with the couple or photographs of the babies were declined.
The parents, who are in their 20s, live in the Dunamore area, near Cookstown.
Few people in the small and isolated rural community knew the couple were expecting a multiple birth until it was announced by hospital staff.
But as news spread today the councillor for the area where the family lives, Sinn Féin’s Sean Clarke, said the community was delighted by the news.
“I would say it is the only topic of conversation around here today,” he said. “Everyone would wish them all the very best at this time and for the future.
“It’s a great occasion, but they are going to have to deal with a life-changing situation. Nobody knows the experiences that lie ahead for them. This is a first really.
“But they will have great family and community support.”
It is the first case of sextuplets in Ireland north or south. The birth of sextuplets is rare, occurring in about one out of 4.5 million pregnancies.
The babies' mother Nuala is originally from the nearby Galbally area, but after the couple were married they moved to Dunamore where her husband Austin has his family roots.
Dunamore is a rural area, little more than a collection of houses with a shop and a pub. It is set in the parish of Kildress where local priest Fr Pat Hughes said the news of the births had delighted everybody.
“Everyone is over the moon and is glad to hear everything is going so well,” he said. “The couple come from very well known and respected large family circles in the area.
“They will get great support from everyone when they come home. But it is the talk of the parish today. Everyone is over the moon.”
He said he had been in contact with the couple’s relatives and said they were delighted by news of the successful births.
Asked if he had given any thought to the logistics of organising such a large scale christening, he said: “We can look forward to that whenever it happens, but for now the family is in our thoughts and everyone is very pleased for them.”
Yesterday’s birth was over in just five minutes between 11.19am and 11.24am according to the medical experts who carried out the procedure.
Doctors confirmed the babies were not conceived through IVF.
The hospital today said that it would not be releasing any updated information about the babies’ condition on the request of the family.
The doctors who were present at the birth praised the calm and composed manner of the mother and father as the difficult delivery was carried out.
Prior to yesterday’s birth, Ireland could boast only two sets of quintuplets, born in 2001 in Co. Wexford and in 2002 in Co. Tyrone.