Quintuplets born prematurely in Durban yesterday are in critical condition, having weighed in at a mere 520-550 grams each.
The Zondi quins – only the fourth such recorded quintuplet birth in South Africa’s history – have been described as little miracles by their beaming parents, who may well be preparing to order nappies by the truckload.
Thembelihle Zondi, 34, of KwaXimba, near Cato Ridge, gave birth by Caesarean section yesterday afternoon at Isipingo Medical Towers.
She was just 26 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to four girls and a boy.
The premies, who experienced difficulty breathing, feeding and maintaining body temperature, were immediately put into incubators.
Gynaecologist Dr Sandlasenkosi Zungu said he had never seen anything like it in his 33 years in practice. He could only remember helping out during the birth of quadruplets 15 years ago, he said.
Zungu quickly pointed out his fears to the couple and maintained that it was in God’s hands for all of them to survive.
“Their condition is critical. They were born before time. We have decided to incubate them until they develop fully,” he said, adding the babies were naturally conceived.
Thembelihle could not conceal her excitement after successfully giving birth.
“I am tired. I wish to drink water. I was shocked thinking about it but I told myself everything would be fine,” she said.
“I thank my husband for his support. I can’t wait to spend time with them. The only complications I had was the swelling of feet and tiredness after eating.”
Thembelihle would not say whether she would like to have more children.
Next to her was her beaming husband Vusi, 42, the principal of Mvini Primary School in KwaXimba, who has four other children.
“I am proud of her. This is a blessing from God,” he said. “I had to leave a principals’ meeting and rush home to bring her to the hospital.”
Wasting no time, the Zondis have named their quins Lunga (the only boy), Lungelo, Mpumelelo, Nolwazi and Zamaluqa.
The babies are receiving round-the-clock high care and are being monitored by a team of specialist doctors and nurses.
According to Dr Thasiga Reddy, who helped with the birth, “The babies were very small, weighing between 520-550 grams.
“It was difficult getting them out. The boy got bruised but he is fine.”
Last year in June, a 31-year-old woman from Tembisa gave birth to quins but only three survived as a result of complications related to being born prematurely.
Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo was amazed when told of the quintuplets born on Thursday.
“This is exciting news. Congratulations to the family. I was not aware,” he said.
Dhlomo said that while the health department did not have an obligation to financially support the family, if they were struggling they could get help from the department of social development.
This is only the fourth recorded quintuplet birth in South Africa. Last year, the Mapokgole quins were born at Steve Biko Academic hospital. One set was born in East London in the 1960s, and another in Kempton Park in the 1980s.