With their first birthday only days away, identical triplets Dakota, Savannah and Brooklyn are toddling and cooing and thrilling their family with that baby cuteness that creates photo-sharing grandmothers on airliners.
But this family has a right to be proud. These are history-making little girls. Doctors advised their mom that she should abort them — since she was too small and weak to bear even one child, much less triplets.
Their mother, Louisiana resident Kandace Smith, has had Cystic Fibrosis all her life.. It’s a debilitating hereditary condition that until recently was a death sentence. As recently as 50 years ago, CF kids rarely made it to their teens. The disease fills their bodies with a mucus that clogs their lungs and makes them susceptible to frequent pneumonia. Many CF patients who make it to adulthood develop diabetes and are unable to have children.
When Kandace became pregnant, she actually believed it was impossible — as she’d been told it was highly unlikely she would ever conceive.
She weighed only 85 pounds and required daily breathing therapy. Like many CF patients, she was hospitalized frequently to deal with the mucus clogging her vital organs.
When her pregnancy was confirmed, she was advised she was not strong enough to bear a child — and should terminate the pregnancy. Furthermore, there was a good chance the baby would have CF as well.
When it was believed that she was carrying twins, the prognosis was even more grim. If she wanted to live, she needed to take action quickly to save her own life.
But Kandace, then 20, refused to abort.
“I couldn’t believe that I was actually pregnant,” she remembers, “and when the scan showed there were three heartbeats I nearly passed out. I didn’t actually believe it was possible – and there were three babies in my womb.”
“She managed to carry the babies for 28 weeks until her lung function started to fail and they were delivered by doctors at Tulane-Lakeside Hospital in October, 2010,” reports the British newspaper the Daily Mail.
The family happily uploaded this video on YouTube, a year ago, just after the three were delivered by Caesarian at 28 weeks and were still in incubators and weeks away from coming home.
Kandace risked her life to give her daughters life.
“I’ve always had such a problem putting on any weight,” she recalls. ‘They told me that to have a termination would be better as it would make sure that I survived. But I was determined. I knew that it was going to be difficult and risky for me, but I wanted to take that risk. I had never thought it was possible that I could ever be a mom, so I wanted to have that chance.”
Although they were born months early they were tiny, but healthy. None of them needed to go on a ventilator, even though they did spend weeks in the hospital before coming home.
She is believed to the first CF patient to give birth to triplets. A spokeswoman for Britain’s Cystic Fibrosis Trust told the Daily Mail, “We have never come across a case where a woman with CF has given birth to triplets. Pregnancy is a strain on the body anyway, but for a person with CF it can be life threatening because of the extra pressure on the lungs. And with triplets, that risk is trebled.’
The almost one-year-olds have been tested for the disease. They are carriers of the rogue gene that causes the disease, but none of them appears to have the illness themselves.
“It has been the hardest fight of my life,” Kandace told the Daily Mail, “but it has been worth every second. I would have died for my girls if I’d had to.”