It was a ɢᴀᴍʙʟᴇ that paid off in spectacular style, It is a story of faith, courage and determination in the face of ɪᴍᴍᴇɴsᴇ ᴘʀᴇssᴜʀᴇ that captured British hearts. Not only did the ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ team defy all expectations by ᴅᴇʟɪᴠᴇʀɪɴɢ the five girls safely, the quintuplets went on to thrive under its dedicated care.
When Dimitri and Varvara Artamkin found they were expecting quintuplets, the ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛɪᴇs in Russia said they must ᴀʙᴏʀᴛ some of them to ᴇɴsᴜʀᴇthe sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟof the rest. But they refused, deciding instead to place their trust in the expertise of the John Radcliffe Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ in Oxford. Now, just over seven years since their remarkable birth, the girls – Elizaveta, Alexandra, Nadezhda, Tatiana and Varvara Artamkin – have returned to Britain from their home in Moscow to pay a touching tribute to the ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs and ɴᴜʀsᴇs who pulled off the modern miracle. Dmitri, a mathematics professor, says that the children are each a gift from God. He said:” We believe God has given them to us as a gift and sent us here, to Britain, to give them the best possible chance. We are so thankful to the ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs and ɴᴜʀsᴇs who took care of Varvara and the girls – they did the most amazing job. We’ve come here to show our gratitude to them. We’ve shown the girls so many pictures of the team as they’ve grown up, so they were very excited to meet them in person and see the place where they were born. It’s very special to us all.”
The couple, who have known each other since childhood, were delighted to discover that Varvara was ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ in 2007 following a course of ғᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ. But when they learned they were expecting five children, ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs in Russia told them ᴀʙᴏʀᴛɪɴɢ some of the babies was the only option to ᴇɴsᴜʀᴇthe sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟof any of them – and of Varvara herself. The couple, members of the Russian Oʀᴛʜᴏᴅᴏx Cʜᴜʀᴄʜ, refused and sought specialist help instead. A ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀ advised them that they should travel to Britain. Although not poor by Russian standards, Dimitri, a mathematics professor, and Varvara, 36, who has worked as a music teacher, are by no means well-off. Their trip and treatment were funded by a generous local businessman. Live births of such a ʟᴀʀɢᴇnumber of babies are ᴇxᴛʀᴇᴍᴇʟʏ ʀᴀʀᴇ and the ʀɪsᴋs to the mother are high. In the majority of cases, they either ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀʏ or the babies are born too ᴘʀᴇᴍᴀᴛᴜʀᴇʟʏ to sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ. But the quintuplets were delivered safely, despite being 14 weeks early and ranging in weight from just 1lb 13oz to 2lb 2oz. The quintuplets, named Elizaveta, Alexandra, Nadezhda, Tatiana and Varvara. Each baby had one ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀ and two ɴᴜʀsᴇs assigned to her, and within days they were all ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜɪɴɢ by themselves.
The babies were whisked into ɪɴᴛᴇɴsɪᴠᴇ ᴄᴀʀᴇ, and the day after their birth they were sᴇᴘᴀʀᴀᴛᴇᴅ because so much sᴘᴇᴄɪᴀʟɪsᴛ ᴇǫᴜɪᴘᴍᴇɴᴛ was needed to care for them. Two were taken to London’s Queen Charlotte’s Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ and then Stoke Mandeville Hᴏsᴘɪᴛᴀʟ in Buckinghamshire, while three remained at John Radcliffe. Staff at John Radcliffe were delighted to see the girls again. Dr Lawrence Impey, the ᴄᴏɴsᴜʟᴛᴀɴᴛ ᴏʙsᴛᴇᴛʀɪᴄɪᴀɴ who oversaw their births, remembers the day well. He said: ” It was planned like a ᴍɪʟɪᴛᴀʀʏ ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, and the stakes were high. Statistically, it didn’t look as though all five would make it – I had to talk to Varvara and Dimitri about the ʀɪsᴋs. So it’s wonderful to see all the girls so healthy and happy.” Varvara, a music teacher said:”We love children so much and have always wanted to have lots. We both come from big families so to us, having lots of children seems normal. I am one of four children, Dimitri is one of nine, and we have 13 nephews and nieces. We have always been surrounded by children and we prayed to God to send us children.”
She added:” They’re very close, although they do ᴄʟᴀsʜ sometimes, like all siblings. They dress alike because they get ᴊᴇᴀʟᴏᴜs if one’s wearing something different. They all have their own distinct personalities, and we’re encouraging them to be their own people. Nadezhda and Elizaveta both love reading, and Varvara, who’s the tallest, is the most serious, while Tatiana is always smiling.”