Once in a life time quadruplets, who have made medical history after being born from a single embryo - the first time this has ever happened in Britain, are being cared for in the Special Care Baby Unit at Rotherham Hospital, part of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.
The four tiny babies weighed just over 10lbs between them when they were born at Jessops Hospital in Sheffield. The babies are now being cared for at Rotherham Hospital until they are well enough to return home.
The babies were born on March 25 after mum Christine, a nurse, underwent her first ever cycle of IVF, funded by the NHS, at Care Fertility in Sheffield.
Darcy was the first born at 2.46pm weighing 2lbs, Caroline followed at 2.46pm weighing 2lbs 3oz. Elisha was born at 2.47pm weight 2lbs 14oz and the last was Alexis, born weighing 3lbs at 2.48pm.
The proud parents, Christine and Justin Clark, from Brinsworth, had been trying to conceive for nine years before having IVF. Three weeks after the single embryo was implanted, a pregnancy test confirmed Christine was pregnant. Christine said: “When we found out we were having four babies, I just couldn’t believe it. I was speechless and to be honest, I didn’t believe it until I saw them for myself.”
Lorry driver Justin said: “It was a very emotional time for us as we'd been trying for nine years to have one child and had no luck. Now we were going to have four. We were happy, but we were also worried about the logistics of how we were going to bring them up.”
During the pregnancy, Christine suffered from the same extreme morning sickness as Kate Middleton - known as hyperemesis gravidarum. She said: “When the news came out about Kate I knew exactly what she was going through. It didn’t stop until 27 weeks and it was exhausting. I felt sick all the time and was being sick a lot, and I was tired and lethargic. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
At 24 weeks, Christine was admitted to Jessops as she was getting breathless but doctors managed to keep her under control until week 30, when she had an elective Caesarean.
Between 14.46 and 14.48 on March 25, Christine had four healthy little girls.
The Clark quads are very unique as they were born from a single embryo and it’s thought to be the only time this has happened in Britain. Justin explained: “They are the first set of quads to be born from a single embryo, which then split into three. One of these three then split into two, to make the twins.
“On the birth of the children there was found to be two placentas so we're not sure yet if we have two babies and the twins, or triplets and a singleton. Tests will have to be carried out when they are 10 to 12 weeks old to confirm this.”
Mr Adel Shaker, the Medical Director at CARE Sheffield who treated Christine, confirmed the quads are extremely rare. He said: “I have been working in IVF for over 20 years and this is the first case I am aware of where a single embryo transferred resulted in a quadruplet pregnancy.
“I have seen two embryos transferred resulting in triplets and a single embryo resulting in twins. Even those pregnancies are very unlikely. Previous IVF quadruplets have seen babies from both sexes (boys and girls) and were reported after transferring two embryos at least. This is to my knowledge, the first time a quadruplet pregnancy is reported after a single embryo transfer and all the babies are of the same sex.”
The babies are no longer hooked up to machines, just a heart rate monitor. It is hoped the babies will return home in June. Christine said, “It will be a very special day in our lives when we have all the babies at home. It's a heartache leaving them at the hospital but fortunately we know they are in wonderful hands. The team at Rotherham Hospital have been absolutely tremendous.”
Juliette Greenwood, Chief Nurse at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Special Care Baby Unit provides support for babies who are born prematurely and full-term babies who are ill or who have complications after birth. On the unit the care is provided by an expert medical and nursing team who deliver the highest skilled and compassionate care for babies and their families. The four girls are doing really well and growing at a healthy rate, it is hoped that they will all be home with mum and dad very shortly.”
Pictured: Proud parents Chris and Justin Clark with their quadruplets.