Identical triplets born at Truman Medical Center are ‘one in a million’ doctors say

Doctors call it a one-in-a-million birth.

Identical triplets were born Thursday at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, according to hospital officials. Doctors say such births are even more rare than identical twins, and often require special care for the mother and children.

In this case, baby boys Ron, Elkanah, and Abishai were born just minutes apart from each other and on Sunday were “doing wonderfully” under observation in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, according to Dr. Josh Petrikin, medical director of the NICU, who is also on staff at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

The mother, Nicole Choge of Ottawa, Kan., rested Sunday while her husband Caleb spoke with news reporters.

The couple, who already had a 2-year-old son, were expecting another baby but were surprised when a sonogram revealed the triplets. Identical triplets occur in about 20 or 30 of every million births, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Biosocial Science.

“My wife and I and our son prayed for another child and then, I like to say, God answered everybody’s prayer: one, two and three,” the father said. “Right now I feel excited, excited and happy.”

He also has had time to reflect on the work ahead with three new babies in the home.

“Man, I need a bigger car,” he said. “Now the logistics come in my mind, I’m like all right, this is a whole different ballgame.”

The couple until recently lived in Kenya, Celeb Choge’s home country, where he was working as a pilot. Ahead of the birth they moved to the Kansas City area, close to where Nicole Choge’s family lives.

The triplets were born at 34 weeks, which is about a month and a half premature, said Petrikin, the NICU doctor. That’s not uncommon for triplets and can bring risk of complications.

“But these babies don’t seem to realize that and they’re doing quite well, Petrikin said. “All in all, they’re doing wonderfully.”

The babies were delivered with the help of Petrikin and Dr. Emanuel Vlastos, medical director of fetal therapy at Children’s Mercy Hospital, who is also on staff at Truman. The two hospitals partnered to provide specialty care to the triplets and their mother.