In 2007, Dimitri and Varvara Artamkin found they were expecting quintuplet girls after a course of fertility treatments. They were very excited, but their excitement was short lived because doctors in Russia told them that they must abort some to ensure the survival of the rest.
Dimitri said, “We were very happy when we first found out but we couldn’t celebrate because the doctors told us straight away that it would be impossible to have all of them. Then all we could feel was worry.”
The practice of aborting babies to “save” others is called “selective reduction,” and is common when couples use fertility drugs. As LifeNews previously reported, this is because to increase success rates, IVF practitioners implant more than one embryo in the woman’s uterus in hopes that at least one will take. Then when more embryos than are desired implant, doctors “reduce” the pregnancy down to the desired number. Additionally, carrying more than two babies can cause serious health complications and many doctors feel uncomfortable handling high-risk pregnancies.
However, for Dimitri and Varvara, abortion wasn’t an option and they decided to try and find a doctor who would help them.
Dimitri said, “We just said no as soon as they told us. We prayed to be given children and God granted our prayer, to kill them would be totally against everything we believe. We go to church every week and believe very strongly in our faith. Varvara’s father is a priest in the Russian Orthodox church. For us, having the abortions was not even an option. It was a frightening and sad time for us but we knew we had to have all the babies. We could see all of them on the ultrasounds and each one was a little person. It was not something we even had to discuss.”
They eventually found a doctor who would help them at John Radcliff Hospital in Oxford, England. Amazingly, on November 10th, 2007, a team of 18 doctors and nurses delivered all five babies. According to the Daily Mail, they were delivered at 26-weeks and ranging in weight from just 1lb 13oz to 2lb 2oz. Each baby had one doctor and two nurses assigned to her, and within days they were all breathing by themselves.
At the time, Dimitri said, “They are so small, but very strong. They are little fighters.” Now their girls are healthy seven year olds. The couple recently visited the hospital to pay tribute to the medical staff that delivered their children. Dimitri said, “We are so thankful to the doctors and nurses 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 consultant obstetrician who oversaw their births, Dr Lawrence Impey, said, “It was planned like a military operation, 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 risks. So it’s wonderful to see all the girls so healthy and happy.”
Dimitri concluded, “We believe God gave the girls to us as a gift and sent us here to give them the best chance of survival. It was very important to us for them to know the people who did so much for them. We cannot thank them enough. I hope the girls will remember this visit for the rest of their lives, and always feel grateful for the care they received.”