ONE of the septuplets put back on ventilator

Wednesday, July 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ After his heart rate began dropping, one of the septuplets born last week was put back on a ventilator. But the doctor overseeing the babies' care said he was not alarmed.

``I don't consider this as a setback at all,'' Dr. Siva Subramanian, chief of neonatology at Georgetown University Hospital, said Tuesday, one day after the baby was put back on the ventilator. ``If anything, it's very, very mild because this is something we expect.''

Once taken off ventilators, some small babies ``get a little tired and they may not be able to breathe effectively,'' he said. ``We're happy that the other babies are doing better.''

Subramanian said the baby, the fifth born last Thursday night, is ``on par'' with where he should be. The five who are breathing on their own are doing better than is typical, he said. The seventh baby, also a boy, remains on a ventilator.

The babies are losing weight, which is typical of newborns, Subramanian said. They are being fed small amounts of their mother's breast milk and are receiving calories and fat intravenously, he said. They should start to slowly gain weight in a few weeks, he said.

The septuplets _ five boys and two girls _ remain in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. They are expected to stay in the hospital for eight weeks.

Dr. Mutahar Fauzia, the mother's physician, would not say when the 28-year-old mother would be released, but said the decision to keep her in the hospital was not made because of a medical problem.

``She is wonderful. She is doing excellent,'' Fauzia said.

Meanwhile, the father, Fahad Al Qahtani, agreed to release the babies' names. All but one are named for members of the Saudi royal family. Al Qahtani and his wife are from Saudi Arabia. Their girls are named Haifa and Shaima. The boys are named Bandar, Abdullah, Sultan, Naif, and Abdulaziz.

The new babies weighed between 2 pounds and 2 pounds, 7 ounces, when they were born by Caesarean section. A medical team including a neonatologist, nurse and respiratory therapist was assigned to each baby.

Al Qahtani and his wife already have a 9-year-old son. The couple had lost two children _ a 6-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl _ who were both waiting for organ transplants. They began using fertility drugs because they wanted a large family, the father told The Washington Post earlier this week.

Subramanian said it was too early to tell whether the septuplets would have similar problems to the two children who died, but said there is nothing to suggest they will.

``If there is any pattern, we will look at it,'' he said. ``Any information about the previous children is important to keep in mind.''