May 27, 2005

VUMC’s first ‘quint’ celebrates milestone

Featured Image

Time flies: Above, Stephen Hawkins and his mother Darlene celebrate at his recent high school graduation.
photo by Kats Barry

VUMC’s first ‘quint’ celebrates milestone

Darlene kisses newborn Stephen at VUMC in 1987.
photo by Lynn Delaney Saunders

Darlene kisses newborn Stephen at VUMC in 1987.
photo by Lynn Delaney Saunders

Tennessee's first set of quintuplets was born at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Jan. 20, 1987, but only one survived.

Stephen, “Baby Hawkins #1,” who is now 18, celebrated a milestone last week when he graduated from White House High School.

The family's story was widely covered in internal publications and by the national news media when the quintuplets were born nearly two decades ago.

“I do remember the national press being there,” said Frank H. Boehm, M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of Maternal/Fetal Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School. He delivered the quintuplets.

“In those days, it was more of a novel event. Mrs. Hawkins was living statistical proof,” Boehm said.

“At the time there was a 20 percent survival rate at 24 weeks for any birth, not to mention that it was quintuplets. There is a 40 percent survival rate today.”

Stephen was watched closely as he struggled to stay alive after being born at 24 weeks gestation, approximately three months premature.

When he was born, he weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces and suffered from hyaline membrane disease due to having underdeveloped lungs.

“When I think about it, it's kind of surreal, because it's obviously a miracle or fate or whatever you want to describe it. I'm lucky, I know that. It's odd, because a lot of times I feel kind of detached from it, it was more something my mother had to deal with. It means a lot to me, but it's just something I don't really deal with in my every-day life.”

Now getting ready for college, Stephen especially enjoys literature. And though he hasn't decided what career path he's going toward, his dream job is to be a film director.

“I'd like to find something I'm happy with,” he said. “I'd like to succeed in general.”