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Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care.

“Miracle Babies,” Quadruplets Born at The Nebraska Medical Center Celebrate 1st Birthday

Quadruplets born at The Nebraska Medical Center who are believed to be the world’s youngest set of surviving quadruplets, born at 23 weeks gestation, are celebrating a major milestone.

This month, the Woollen quadruplets – sons Brett, Kaden and Cooper and daughter Parker – are celebrating their first birthday.

“It has been the craziest, but also the best year of our lives,” said Lee and Rachel Woollen of Holdrege, Neb., the proud parents of the healthy quadruplets who have beat all odds. “They were our miracle babies and now they’ve made it through their first year of life with few complications.”

Quadruplets born at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska celebrate their 1st birthday.

The quadruplets were born Feb. 11, 2008, about four months prematurely. Each baby spent four months or more in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at The Nebraska Medical Center before being released from the hospital.

“I read stories all the time of babies born prematurely and they’re very sick,” said Rachel Woollen. “It’s amazing that all we’ve had to deal with since we’ve taken the babies home from the hospital is a few viral infections and respiratory colds. We feel very blessed.”

Ann Anderson-Berry, M.D., neonatologist at The Nebraska Medical Center said the babies have surpassed all expectations. “They truly are miracles,” she said. “Their remarkable outcome is quite an achievement.”

Dr. Anderson-Berry credits the parents’ strength, prenatal caregivers and the excellent NICU staff. “The infants were able to take advantage of being born in a NICU with state-of-the-art facilities and the medical center’s innovative nutrition program which helped the babies to grow and to develop.”

Infants born 17 weeks early have many obstacles to overcome. Some may experience infections, bleeding of the brain, blindness, deafness, bowel inflammation and poor growth. Individually, each of the Woollen babies had a 50 percent chance of survival and only about a 15 percent chance of surviving with good medical outcomes.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network Extremely Preterm Birth Outcomes Data Calculator, the probability of all four infants surviving is 3.4 percent. Furthermore, the chance of all four infants surviving without moderate or major neurodevelopmental impairment is 0.03 percent.

“The Woollen babies had a lot to overcome after such an early birth,” said Dr. Anderson-Berry. “But they have made amazing strides and have come through their first year with overwhelming success.”

“We continue to watch their milestones with delight,” added Dr. Anderson-Berry. “Their medical and developmental achievements this first year of life continues to exceed expectations for infants born at their gestational age.”

Each baby weighed just over 1 1/2 pounds at birth. When they went home from the hospital, each weighed between 6 and 8 pounds. Now at a year old, they weigh between 13 and 16 pounds.

Omaha, Nebraska quadruplets born at The Nebraska Medical Center celebrate their 1st birthday.

Rachel Woollen says each quadruplet has a distinct personality.

Brett, the first born, is still “the leader of the pack and on the go all the time.” He also loves to laugh and play.

Kaden is “a thinker” according to his mother. “He likes to study everything and will really check people out before smiling at them. He is quiet most of the time, but when he voices his opinion, he’s extremely loud about it.”

The only girl, Parker, is Daddy’s little princess. “She seems to know she’s the only girl and she let’s her brothers know who’s boss,” said Rachel. “In fact she’s starting to pass up the boys. She has the most teeth, she was the first to sit up and will be the first to crawl.”

Cooper struggled the most after birth; he spent more time on the ventilator than his siblings and still uses oxygen at nighttime. “He is the smallest,” said Rachel, “But he’s catching up quickly. He loves people and is usually very happy.”

Lee and Rachel Woollen share that they are asked all the time how they care for four children. Lee said he often replies, “You just do it. You take it day by day.” The couple also credits the wonderful help they’ve received from family and friends.

The Woollens celebrated the quadruplets’ first birthday on Feb. 7 with family, a few friends and a lot of cake and ice cream. The quadruplets were also baptized at church that same day.

“It was a very special day,” said Rachel. “We spent the day reflecting on how far the babies have come in the past year. I think of the days we spent in the NICU at The Nebraska Medical Center. The doctors and nurses will always have a special place in our hearts. They played such a big part in getting the babies to this one year milestone and we will always be grateful to them and their excellent care of our four little miracles.”