Saturday, August 18, 2007

Canadian woman has to come the the USA to give birth to quads

A 35-year-old Canadian woman has given birth to rare identical quadruplets, officials at a Great Falls hospital said Thursday. Karen Jepp of Calgary, Alberta, delivered Autumn, Brooke, Calissa and Dahlia by Caesarian section Sunday afternoon at Benefis Healthcare, said Amy Astin, the hospital's director of community and government relations. The four girls were breathing without ventilators and listed in good condition Thursday, she said. ''These babies are doing grand,'' said Dr. Tom Key of Great Falls, the perinatologist who delivered the girls. The babies were born about two months early and were conceived without fertility drugs, he said. They weighed between 2.6 pounds and 2.15 pounds.

Jepp and her husband, J.P., declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press. ''The parents have been a little bit shy about the press. ... We agreed to handle it in a way they were comfortable with,'' Astin said. The couple have a 2-year-old son, Simon. J.P. Jepp works for Shell Oil Co., and both worked for nonprofit groups until recently, Astin said.

The chances of giving birth to identical quadruplets is about one in 13 million, Key said. ''This is a very big medical event,'' he said. ''Identical quadruplets are extremely rare.'' Medical literature indicates there are less than 50 sets of identical quadruplets, said Dr. Jamie Grifo, director of the NYU Fertility Center in New York. The last reported set were born in April 2006 to a 26-year-old Indian woman.

The Jepps drove 325 miles to Great Falls for the births because hospitals in Calgary were at capacity, Key said. ''The difficulty is that Calgary continues to grow at such a rapid rate. ... The population has increased a lot faster than the number of hospital beds,'' he said.

Two of the girls were to be transferred to a Calgary hospital later Thursday. The other two could be moved Friday if their conditions remain favorable, Key said. They will likely remain hospitalized for four to six weeks, he said. ''These quads are special,'' Astin said. ''The fact that she carried them 31 weeks and three days is excellent.''


Don Surber comments:

The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, to a humble, French-speaking couple in a farmhouse outside of Callander, Ontario, Canada. They were identical sisters and for the first 10 years of their lives, the five girls were the No. 1 tourism attraction in Canada. Then came free health care for all Canadians. Which is why the four identical Jepp sisters were born in Great Falls, Mont., instead of Calgary this weekend. The Canadian parents flew 325 miles to get to an American hospital.

Can you imagine being about to go into labor for four births, and then flying 325 miles to get to the hospital in another country? Incredible. Michelle Lang, Calgary Herald, reported:

Their mother, Calgarian Karen Jepp, was transferred to Benefis Hospital in Montana last week when she began showing signs of going into labour, and no Canadian hospital had enough neonatal intensive-care beds for all four babies.

73 years ago, a poor French Canadian mother was successfully able to give birth to five girls in a farmhouse in Ontario, but then the Canadian government took over the health system and - voila - Karen Jepp has to go to an American hospital 325 miles away.

It's not like Great Falls, Mont., is a teeming metropolis. With 56,215 people, it is slightly larger than Charleston, W.Va. Calgary has more than a million people. This is like being demoted from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Charleston Alley Cats. (OK, they changed the team's name to West Virginia Power.)

There is a difference between health care and health insurance. In capitalistic America, the concentration is on health. In socialistic Canada, the emphasis is on paying the bills. The story ended with how much the American hospital charged. Looks like a quarter-million bucks for a 5-day stay. Given that it was the quadruple birth of 2-pound babies two months premature, I'd say it was a bargain.

This is not to piss all over Canada. Nice nation. Great people. I'm sure most Canadians like their health system. Just remember, though, that Canada's backup system is in Montana. Americans spend 15% of their income on health care. That's why Great Falls has enough neo-natal units to handle quadruple births - and a "universal health" nation doesn't. After all, they didn't fly Mrs. Jepp to Cuba, did they?

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