Triplets born 15 weeks premature get to go home

April 07, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Together, the three babies didn’t add up to five pounds when they were born. Individually, they barely registered on the scale.

Triplets Lukas (1 lb., 12 oz.), Simas (1 lb., 4 oz.) and Viktorija (1 lb., 8 oz.) Smilgiene were born at Edward Hospital on Aug. 27, 2015 – 15 weeks premature, which meant they were immediately moved to Edward Hospital’s Level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where a team of neonatologists and nurses treats the sickest and most fragile newborns.

Babies born that early face numerous challenges in order to survive, according to Bob Covert, M.D., a neonatologist with DuPage Neonatology Associates and medical director of Edward’s NICU. Covert said the Smilgiene triplets encountered a full range of complications, including premature lungs, infections and multiple surgeries.

Simas and Viktorija went home on Jan. 24 after 151 days (nearly five months) in Edward’s NICU. On March 2, Lukas joined his siblings at home after 189 days (or a little more than six months) in Edward’s NICU.

For mom and dad, Lina, 38 years old, and Kestutis, 43, the triplets are their first children. The Smilgienes have been married for 16 years and had been trying to have a baby for years. So, on March 2, the joy was evident when the family of five was ready to head home together for the first time.

“It is an unbelievable enjoyment. We are so excited and very happy,” Lina told The Naperville Sun. “You have to trust your doctors, listen to your heart and hope for the best. We used that [attitude] to get through all the problems we have had. We would tell each other that everything will be fine and tomorrow will be better."

The Smilgienes, who live in Orland Park, chose Edward for delivery and care of their triplets because of research they had done. Lina’s care during her pregnancy was provided by Edward-Elmhurst Health perinatologists Donald Taylor, D.O. and Jill Moran, M.D. Perinatology, also known as maternal fetal medicine, is for women who are involved in or have the potential for high-risk pregnancies.

“It’s nice that the family had the confidence to come here from another location. It’s an amazing success for the team because it’s a lot of teamwork that goes into a very long stay for three little babies,” said Covert in an interview with NCTV 17.

Edward’s Level III NICU, which opened with 22 private patient rooms in 2013, was recently expanded by the addition of a new 13-bed private, single room unit in 2017 (that can care for both Level II special care and Level III babies). Both NICUs feature space, comfort and privacy for treatment and consultation with doctors and nurses. The units have larger rooms that can accommodate twins and triplets. Each room has a computer and internet access, light/temperature control, two large parent chairs (one which can be used as a bed), a freezer for breast milk, closets for parents and natural light.

Edward’s NICU has a history of taking care of tiny babies, including:

  • Michael Gillespie, of Plainfield, born in 2008 with a “giant omphalocele,” which means most of his internal organs were outside of his body. He also had a heart defect and his lungs weren’t fully developed because he was born 10 weeks premature. He had several close calls, was on life support for months and had several major surgeries. Michael spent the first 299 days of his life in Edward’s NICU.
  • Bella Craig, from Lockport, born on Feb. 20, 2008 with a giant omphalocele, a condition in which internal organs are outside the body covered by a thin membrane. Following her birth, nurses at first and then parents Melissa and Adam applied an antibiotic cream to transform the membrane into a protective shell. Bella left the NICU in mid-May 2008 and returned to Edward a few months later for a procedure that successfully covered and closed the omphalocele.
  • The four surviving Horton quintuplets, Caitlynn, Coira, Lachlan and Porter, who gained national attention in 2004 following their birth by mother Taunacy and news that Josh, their father, was severely wounded while serving with the Marines in Iraq.
  • “Baby Zoe,” of Plainfield, born on Jan. 6, 2004 as one of the world’s smallest babies at 305 grams (10.8 ounces). She was 9.5 inches long. Zoe Koz was the ninth smallest baby in the world to survive, the third smallest in the U.S. and the smallest in DuPage County.
  • The Medrano quadruplets, Alexander, Alessandro, Michael and Ysabell, of Elgin, born on Oct. 4, 2006. The Medrano quadruplets were conceived naturally, without fertility drugs or treatment. The odds of having natural or spontaneous quadruplets are estimated to be 1 in 512,000.

Learn more about Edward’s newly expanded NICU.


Triplets born 15 weeks premature get to go home

Simas and Viktorija went home after nearly five months in Edward’s NICU. Lukas joined his siblings at home a little ov...

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