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FIRST BORN CRITICAL

By Miranda La Rose Friday, March 8 2013

click on pic to zoom in

The firstborn of the sextuplets is critical and doctors at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital (MHWH) are caring for the baby boy who is still not breathing on his own.

“The firstborn, a boy, is critically ill, and the paediatric staff is working round-the-clock with this baby. He remains on the ventilator,” chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority Dr Shehenaz Mohammed told Newsday yesterday. She noted that with pre-term babies the situation could change at any moment.

The five other babies, two boys and three girls, were taken off ventilators on Tuesday and Wednesday and continue to do well, Mohammed said. All of the babies remain in incubators and are being fed intravenously.

Their mother, 28-year-old Petra Lee Foon, a teacher, is also doing fine and had her first visit with the babies on Tuesday.

The sextuplets were delivered by Caesarean section by a 60-member medical team, led by consultant obstetrician Dr Bharat Bassaw, at the hospital on Monday morning.

Their father Keiron Cummings, 29, a bank employee, on Wednesday described the babies as “six blessings” and said he and Lee Foon are hoping to get a house for their family. He lives with his parents in Arima and Lee Foon lives in Chaguanas with hers.

Keiron’s mother, Mrs Cummings (who did not want her first name mentioned) yesterday said the families continue to pray for the babies.

“We are all hoping and praying that all the babies survive. We are taking it one day at a time,” she told Newsday.

Mrs Cummings, who has one older grandchild, is however elated that she now has more grands with the six babies.

“It is an overwhelming situation,” she said.

Clive Cummings, a cousin of Keiron’s father, Chris, said the extended family was excited about the babies but he would like to see the State assisting in their care and development because “to bring up six at one time, it is going to be challenging.”

Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh yesterday said he was in contact with Keiron on Wednesday night, and disclosed his ministry and the ministries of health and housing were working together to see how best they could assist his family.

He noted that Minister of Housing Dr Roodal Moonilal had discussed with him an application for housing made to the Housing Development Corporation by the babies’ parents.

“He (Moonilal) has indicated that he has seen the application, and his ministry will treat with the case accordingly. He will do his best to help with the situation,” Ramadharsingh said.

Whenever the family of eight are about to move into a home, the Ministry of the People and Social Development would give them a furniture assistance grant of $6,000, he added.

The ministry will also provide the parents with a pharmaceutical grant of up to $2,500 for three months. “We can help with any house repairs through the National Social Development Programme. This will also involve any plumbing and electrical works,” he said.

In terms of food support, he said the assistance, which is normally $450 a month, could go up to $700. A clothing grant that could also go up to $500 a month was also being considered. “As this would be a special case,” he said, “we are looking at this issue in terms of a new policy.”

The ministry’s technical people, he said, “are also looking at a one-off grant gift for some Unit Trust units for each child.”

Psycho-social support and counselling by the Family Services Division would be available to the family because the birth of sextuplets in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean, was a new development and there will be challenges.

While Government was offering assistance, Newsday was yesterday flooded with telephone calls from a number of organisations and businesses that wanted to help the family of the newborns. The only telephone contact Newsday has for the family is 667-3691, which is listed in the TSTT telephone directory.

Meanwhile, residents in Arima yesterday continued to express their excitement and happiness that the historic sextuplets were of Arima stock.

Neighbours Flora Williams and Dexter Braithwaite said they were all happy for Keiron and his father, Chris, who were born and raised on Nelson Street, Arima.

Williams said that she was unaware that something significant had happened for the Cummings family until she saw them celebrating on Monday night.

“All of the young people, and the cars were out there parked around the corner and by the (Baptist) church. They were playing their music, and obviously enjoying themselves,” she said.

It was during the course of Tuesday morning, that another neighbour disclosed, to her amazement, that Keiron was the father of the country’s first sextuplets.

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