- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2005

BALTIMORE — Jennell Dickens is single, petite and 22 years old.

On Wednesday, she became the mother of quintuplets.

“A lot of people didn’t think I would make it this far,” said the new mother during a press conference yesterday at the University of Maryland Medical Center, her face glowing with pride.

The babies — a boy and four girls — are the first set of quintuplets born at the Baltimore hospital in more than 30 years and only the second set born in Maryland since the new millenium, health officials said.

The first Maryland quintuplets of the millenium were born to Gisel Mora, the wife of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora, at Johns Hopkins Hospital on July 28, 2001.

The hospital has established the Dickens Quintuplets Fund to collect donations for the little Dickens, who were born 10 weeks early.

Doctors said the quintuplets are doing well and are being monitored closely.

“The first baby came out screaming and hollering,” said Miss Dickens, an administrative assistant at the hospital’s division of emergency medicine. “After the initial shock was over, everything else was OK.”

The babies ranged in weight from 1 pound 12 ounces to 2 pounds 13 ounces. Together, they weighed more than 11 pounds.

“It is truly remarkable for a woman to carry quintuplets past 30 weeks,” said Dr. Hugh Mighty, who delivered all five babies and led a team of 30 specialists. “The fact that Ms. Dickens was able to do that enabled the babies to grow bigger and has improved their chances of survival.”

Miss Dickens had been at the hospital since July 12 to allow doctors to monitor her progress.

“The delivery went very smoothly and Ms. Dickens was comfortable and awake so that she could see each baby being born,” said Dr. Andrew Malinow, a member of the delivery team.

Miss Dickens said she took a single dose of a fertility drug because of a hormone imbalance. She said she found out she was having quintuplets nine weeks into her pregnancy when she went for her first prenatal visit and the doctor noticed her uterus was up higher than normal.

The next day, an ultrasound reading showed she was carrying five babies.

“I just cried,” Miss Dickens said. “At that point I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a lot to take on. I just wish for the best of health for them.”

Her older sister, Sharita, 23, was in shock when she got the call at work that her sister was having quintuplets.

“I went from sitting in the chair to being on the floor,” she said. “I’m just excited that they’re here.”

Sharita Dickens has two children of her own, ages 2 and 5, but said, “They’ll definitely be loved. There is plenty of love in our family.”

Miss Dickens is expected to be released from the hospital over the weekend.

Neonatologist Dr. Rose Viscardi said the newborns may be able to go home within the next two months, provided they continue to do well.

“Right now they’re great. It’s too early to see if there will be long-term problems,” she said.

The births took 21/2 minutes. Each baby was assigned his or her own group of doctors immediately following its birth. There were four other births at the hospital on that day, as well.

“The initial hurdle is making sure that each baby is breathing own their own,” said Dr. Viscardi, who noted one baby was placed on a ventilator shortly after birth. “We need to also make sure they are able to maintain temperature.”

All are in incubators.

They’ve been named JaMir Amare, Si’ani Ritay, NaRae Dimetria, Jade and Rayne Anye.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the medical center is the largest in the state and is part of the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

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