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The biggest of the McCaughey (pronounced McCoy) septuplets is...

By SUZANNE ROBERTS

DES MOINES, Iowa, Nov. 21 -- The biggest of the McCaughey (pronounced McCoy) septuplets is breathing on his own and doctors say it'll just be a few more days before his siblings can be removed from ventilators as well. The world's only living full set of septuplets were born Wednesday to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.

Doctors say they are pleased with the babies' progress. Dr. Robert Shaw of Blank Children's Hospital, where they newborns were transferred, told a news conference today each baby has shown signs of significant improvement. Kenneth, who weighed in at 3 pounds, 4 ounces at birth, is the strongest of the group and has been nicknamed 'Hercules.' Shaw said he 'has the cutest, chubbiest little cheeks.' Kenneth was upgraded to fair condition. The rest of the infants remained in serious condition. Shaw said Kenneth's siblings will need another two or three days on the ventilators before they are ready to breathe on their own. The babies' mother has been spending large chunks of time in the neonatal intensive care unit as she continues to recover from the delivery. Bobbi McCaughey is expected to go home within the next few days. Doctors said the mother has started expressing her breasts but it is unclear exactly how much breast milk she will be able to provide since permature babies usually cannot suck and swallow well enough to keep the milk flowing properly. Bobbi McCaughey got some encouragement by phone today from Christine and Ray Koontz of North Dakota, the parents of quadruplets. Ray Koontz said he told her that though the babies look tiny and fragile now, 'everyone will grow up big and strong and healthy.' ---

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Copyright 1997 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---

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