Three little McCaugheys celebrated turning one week old on Wednesday by breathing on their own, bringing to five the number of the history-making septuplets showing marked improvement.
Joel, Brandon and Kelsey were removed from ventilators that had helped them breathe, and their conditions were upgraded from serious to fair, according to Iowa Methodist Medical Center.
Simply surviving this long is a good sign for all of the children, said Dr. Tim Cooper, assistant professor in neonatology and ethics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“If you’re alive at seven days and were born at 31 weeks (gestation), then your chance of living is 98 percent,” he said. “These are keepers.”
At 2 pounds, 5 ounces, Kelsey was the smallest of the four boys and three girls born Nov. 19 to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey nine weeks shy of full gestation.
The three join Kenneth, the largest of the seven, who was taken off a ventilator on Friday, and Natalie Sue, who began breathing on her own Tuesday.
Joel had been taken off the ventilator for a few hours Sunday before he grew tired and was placed back on the machine.
Doctors say it is not unusual for babies this age and size to fluctuate between breathing on their own and needing help from a ventilator.
Natalie, Joel and Kelsey also began taking feedings by mouth, which neonatologist Dr. Robert Shaw has said is the next milestone after being taken off a ventilator.
Kenneth had been eating for a few days.