Chinese quadruplets defy 750,000-to-1 odds, but poor parents say they still need a miracle

Couple says medical costs of caring for their new son and three daughters, whom they have yet to name, add up to US$2,400 a day

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 July, 2018, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 July, 2018, 5:41pm

A Chinese woman who was told she might not be able to carry her four foetuses to full term successfully gave birth to quadruplets last week, about a month prematurely, according to a local newspaper report.

While the infants are all doing well in intensive care, their parents, from Xining in northwest China’s Qinghai province, said they were struggling to cover the cost of the medical treatment the babies needed, Xining Evening News reported.

Liu Youlan, 30, gave birth to the babies by caesarean section on Friday, when she was just 33 weeks into her pregnancy. Doctors recommended a surgical delivery out of concern for Liu’s health as she had a problem with her liver, the report said.

Four surgeons, four obstetricians, three anaesthesiologists and four nurses took part in the one-hour procedure. The first arrival was a baby boy, who weighed in at 1.8kg (4 pounds). He was followed by his three sisters, all of whom weighed between 1.9kg and 2.1kg.

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The fact all four babies were born healthy defied the odds in more ways than one. When Liu and her husband Ma Yuncai were told in January they were expecting quadruplets, doctors advised them to abort at least one of the foetuses on the grounds that trying to carry all four to full term would be too risky for the mother.

Despite the doctors’ concerns, the couple opted to continue the pregnancy with all four foetuses.

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Wang Shenglan, head of obstetrics at the Qinghai Red Cross Hospital where the babies were born, said the new arrivals were the first quads she had helped deliver in 20 years of nursing. The report quoted her as saying that naturally conceived quadruplets happened just once in every 752,000 births.

Ma said that the couple had mixed emotions about the new additions to their family.

“We were taken by surprise when we learned about the quadruplets, and also felt the heavy burden,” he said.

Ma, who makes about 4,000 yuan (US$600) a month, is the family’s sole breadwinner. He and Liu already had a five-year-old daughter and also looked after Ma’s 70-year-old father, he said in an interview published on the Pear Video website.

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Ma said his employer had donated tens of thousands of yuan to help cover the cost of the babies’ care, but he was worried that it would not be enough. The infants needed to stay in hospital for another three weeks, and the cost was 16,000 yuan a day, the report said.

Aside from the family’s monetary concerns, Ma said that he and his wife had been so busy they had not even considered what to call their new son and three daughters.

“We’ve been very busy and haven’t named the babies yet. If any members of the public are keen to help please feel free to contact us,” he said.