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May 26, 1999 12:00 AM

The world’s only surviving octuplets, born prematurely on Sunday to 27-year-old Nkem Chukwu (who took fertility drugs), fought for their lives Monday in a Texas hospital. Two of the eight babies were said to be in worse shape than the others and were receiving oxygen, but all were in critical condition at the neonatal intensive care unit at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. Seven were on ventilators to help them breathe. Of their prognosis, “It’s really too early to say,” said Leonard Weisman, the hospital’s chief of neonatology. “They are all critically ill. Several have shown some improvement and several haven’t.”

  • Dr. Weisman said statistically the babies have an 85% chance of survival and a 75 to 80% chance of developing normally. Their hospital stay, expected to last at least two months, will cost about $250,000 each.

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