MAYWOOD, Ill. – Triplets Finn, Kyle and Ava Santiago, who were born six weeks premature and underweight, went home from Loyola University Medical Center Dec. 24, just in time to celebrate their first Christmas.
From the moment they were born on Dec. 6, the babies were monitored around the clock at Loyola’s neonatal intensive care unit.
All three are as healthy as normal full-term, full-weight babies, said Jonathan Muraskas, MD, co-medical director of Loyola’s neonatal ICU.
Parents Brandon and Heather Santiago of Berkeley, Ill. say they are thrilled their family grew from three – they have a 3-year-old son, Liam – to six.
“We won the baby lottery,” said Mr. Santiago, a firefighter/paramedic. “We are so grateful that our entire family will be together for Christmas.”
Many premature triplets suffer serious complications and wind up with lifelong disabilities, including cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss and learning disabilities. But during their 18-day stay at Loyola, neither Finn, Kyle nor Ava experienced any serious complications or setbacks.
“Everything went very smoothly,” said Dr. Muraskas, who has treated more than 15,000 infants, including 400 sets of triplets, six sets of quadruplets, two sets of quintuplets and the world’s smallest surviving baby (birth weight 9.17 oz.).
Mrs. Santiago received her prenatal care from Loyola’s multidisciplinary maternal-fetal team, which includes doctors, sonographers, genetic counselors, pediatric subspecialists, perinatologists, neonatologists and nurses.
Multiple pregnancies pose risks for both the mother and her babies. Mrs. Santiago was closely monitored, and as her pregnancy progressed, she came in for weekly ultrasounds.
"It was a privilege to care for Heather in our high-risk clinic,” said Jean Goodman, MD, division director of Maternal/Fetal Medicine. “Heather was an active, dedicated participant in her care, helping us to achieve such a terrific outcome for her pregnancy".
Mrs. Santiago originally was scheduled to give birth by cesarean section on Dec. 21. But after she developed preeclampsia (high blood pressure), which put her at risk for stroke, kidney failure and other serious complications, her C-section was moved up to Dec. 6.
Finn (4 pounds, 2 oz.) was born first, followed by Kyle (4 lb., 14 oz.) and Ava, (3 lb., 14 oz.). They have grown to weigh 5 lb., 4 oz.; 5 lb., 10 oz.; and 4 lb., 12 oz., respectively.
The babies were monitored 24/7 for oxygen levels, heart rate, feeding problems, infections, and more. Finn had some minor breathing problems and was given supplemental oxygen, and all three babies needed feeding tubes at first. But now they all are eating and breathing on their own, and continue to gain weight.
“The care our babies received at Loyola is amazing,” Mrs. Santiago said. “We would not have wanted to be anywhere else.”
Loyola’s 50-bed neonatal ICU cares for the sickest babies, offering the latest technology, therapies and techniques. It serves as a national model for special protocols and practices in the care of premature infants.
Drs. Muraskas and Goodman have been named to Chicago magazine’s 2016 list of Chicago’s Top Doctors.