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The Chukwu octuplets were the first set of octuplets live-born in the United States.

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Family history

The six girls and two boys were born in December 1998 at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas. Their parents — mother, Nkem Chukwu, then 27, and father, Iyke Louis Udobi, then 41 — were both Nigerian-born American citizens.[1] As both parents were of Igbo ancestry, the babies were named according to Igbo tradition,[2] as follows:

  • Chukwuebuka Nkemjika (Ebuka) - Girl, weighed 690 g (22 oz.) at birth
  • Chidinma Anulika (Chidi) - Girl, weighed 760 g (24.4 oz.) at birth
  • Chigecherem Nwabugwu (Echerem) - Girl, weighed 800 g (25.7 oz.) at birth
  • Chimaijem Otito (Chima) - Girl, weighed 730 g (23.5 oz.) at birth
  • Chijindu Chidera (Odera) - Girl, weighed 320 g (10.3 oz.) at birth
  • Chukwubuikem Maduabuchi (Ikem) - Boy, weighed 500 g (16.0 oz.) at birth
  • Chijioke Chinedum (Jioke) - Boy, weighed 810 g (26.0 oz.) at birth
  • Chinagorom Chidiebere (Gorom) - Girl, weighed 520 g (16.7 oz.) at birth

The octuplets were conceived with the aid of fertility medication. All weighed under two pounds at the time of birth.[3] The first born, Ebuka, was delivered on December 8, 15 weeks premature. The remainder were born by Caesarean section on December 20, 13 weeks premature. The smallest of the octuplets, Odera, died on December 27, a week after birth.

In 2002, Nkem Chukwu delivered a daughter named Divine Favour this time without the help of fertility medication. She is called "Favour" as Chukwu believed that God did her a favour by giving her back the daughter she lost after the octuplets' births. Favour is usually seen in public dressed like her siblings forming an 8-member octuplet brood.

The children celebrated their 10th birthday in Houston on December 20, 2008, in the company of volunteers who helped in their early years. The five girls and two boys are reported to be "normal, active and bright fourth-graders."[3]

Media appearances

On January 27, 2009, Nkem Chukwu and her husband Iyke Louis Udobi appeared for the first time in 10 years on national TV on ABC's Good Morning America in a pre-recorded segment where they commented on the birth of the new Suleman octuplets. The next day, January 28, 2009, the whole family along with grandmother Janet Chukwu appeared on NBC's The Today Show [4] which was the first time the octuplets appeared on national television since their first birthdays. Later that day they were whisked to the Associated Press (AP) World Headquarters for a TV interview for the world newswires. The Chukwus' Toronto based publicist at the time Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo, who has also known the family since the children were born, stated that Nkem Chukwu went through a marathon of interviews in the wake of Nadya Suleman's delivery of octuplets on January 26, 2009. BBC, Sky News, Fox News, CNN Radio, as well as Fox News Radio, Local Bellflower, and California media outlets all bombarded her with interview requests asking what tips she had for the new mother and how she has managed to raise hers for 10 years successfully. On Monday February 2, they also appeared on the Larry King Live show in a segment titled "Octuplet Outrage" focusing on the worldwide coverage generated by Nadya Suleman's 14 children, and the ethical and medical controversy.[5] On February 9, 2009, Nkem and Iyke Chukwu appeared on Radio One's talk show The Mo'Nique show.[6] They also appeared Sunday February 15, 2009 on a local TV segment on KHOU-TV, Houston, Texas on a family update.[7] They also appeared on CNN's AC360 on February 18 2009. Nkem Chukwu addressed the issue of the Nadya Suleman controversy with Randi Kaye of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 show on February 18, 2009. [8]

On February 2, 2009, then Publicist Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo released a statement on Nkem Chukwu's behalf. The statement read:

"In light of the Bellflower mom, Nadya Suleman's story, I spoke on The Today Show[4] that the upcoming Chukwu octuplets' world tour will be promoting healthy families. For a mother of octuplets, the focus should now be on the care of the new babies so as to raise them in a healthy environment physically, psychologically, mentally and emotionally. There has been too much speculation on the internet however everyone is entitled to their opinion. We would not be here without our army of volunteers. They remain in our prayers in getting a support system for building a healthy family.[4]

When asked, her husband Iyke Louis Udobi stated in their recent AP interview that "if you can take care of one, you can take care of eight".[9]

World tour

The Chukwu octuplets will be embarking on a world tour themed "Promoting Healthy Families." The tour begins Summer of 2009 after the octuplet kids take their summer break. They plan to visit TV talk shows and health clinics; their mother Nkem plans to visit prenatal and postnatal clinics as a speaker; the children plan to visit summer camps and hold supermarket tour seminars on how to shop groceries for large families. The tour will extend into the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the parents' native Nigeria. They are currently seeking sponsors through their marketing team and planning to make the world a healthy place to be. They plan to wrap up the tour with a visit to Buckingham Palace and The White House sometime in 2009. Nkem Chukwu elaborated on NBC's The Today Show on January 28 2009 on the need to bring up healthy families even during a recession.[4] Meanwhile Nkem Chukwu continues to educate families with health tips, news of the day, quotes and other multiple family news. [10 ]. On March 18 2009, in their latest interview with the Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches, Texas, Octuplet father Iyke Louis and his wife said that they never thought they would have so many children, but that God brought them the gift, and now they are looking to share it with the world. Several projects are in the works for the Chukwus, including a book, magazine deals and even a possible documentary. But as of yet, nothing is finalized. [11 ].

References

  1. ^ "Mother of the Octuplets Goes Home to Recover", by Rick Lyman, New York Times, December 31, 1998; retrieved January 10, 2008
  2. ^ "Octuplets get names; dad gets unwanted publicity", from CNN website, December 24, 1998; retrieved January 10, 2008
  3. ^ a b "Houston octuplets celebrate 10th birthday", by Jennifer Leahy, from the Houston Chronicle website, December 20, 2008, retrieved February 2, 2009
  4. ^ a b c d "Houston octuplets visit The Today Show", by Michael Inbar, from The Today Show website, January 28, 2009, retrieved February 7, 2009
  5. ^ "Chukwu Octuplets visit Larry King Live", by Keminications Media, from the Keminications Media Video website, February 4, 2009, retrieved February 7, 2009
  6. ^ "Chukwu Octuplets parents on the Mo'Nique radio show", by Keminications Media, from the Keminications Media audio website, February 9, 2009, retrieved February 10, 2009
  7. ^ "Houston Octuplets weigh in on California multiples", by KHOU-TV, Houston from the KHOU-TV website, February 16, 2009, retrieved February 18, 2009
  8. ^ "Growing up as Octuplets", by CNN-TV's Anderson Cooper 360, from the AC360 blog, February 18, 2009, retrieved February 18, 2009
  9. ^ "Houston Octuplet dad tells AP parents who can take care of one baby can do the same with 8!", by Bonny Goach, from Associated Press TV website, January 28, 2009, retrieved February 7, 2009
  10. ^ "Official Chukwu Octuplets Website", by Joomia, March 9, 2008, retrieved March 18, 2009
  11. ^ "Daily Sentinel Nacogdoches", by Trent Jacobs, March 18, 2008, retrieved April 4, 2009

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