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Mother of quintuplets recounts historic birth in Buffalo

Among the many remarkable births and babies over the last century at Women & Children's Hospital in Buffalo was Bridgett Maskell's.

On Oct. 1, 2009, the Lockport mom gave birth to quintuplets, believed to be the only quints born in modern Western New York history.

Maskell was sent to the high-risk clinic at Children's as soon as her doctor saw in the sonogram that there were five embryos growing inside her.

"I see one, I see two," Maskell remembered her doctor saying. She kept going.

"This isn't funny," Maskell remembered telling her doctor.

It was a shock. Maskell already had twins.

Bridgett Maskell holds her tiny daughter, 10-week-old Anna Belle Maskell, at Women and Children's Hospital. She was one of the quintuplets born Oct. 1., 2009. (Provided by Bridgett Maskell)

Specialists warned Maskell and her husband John Mistalski that there was only a 30 percent chance that all five of the babies would survive. They gave her the option of a procedure known as "reduction" to remove some of the fetuses. But Maskell decided to keep them all.

"It's a chance I'm going to have to take," she remembered thinking.

At 24 weeks, Maskell started bleeding and her sister drove her the hospital. Doctors were able to keep her from going into labor for a week.

The staff all seemed excited about the historic birth, Maskell said. "They had a sign-up sheet in the nurse's station for my delivery," she said. "Everyone wanted to be a part of it."

There was a team of four to five doctors and nurses standing by for each baby.

Tyler Mistalski in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women and Children's Hospital. (Provided by Bridgett Maskell)

The first, Kayla, was born at 1:54 p.m. Last was Anna Belle, who was born at 2 p.m. on the dot. Tyler was the smallest, weighing just 12 ounces. Ramona was the biggest at 1 pound, 11 ounces. Justin and Anna Belle both weighed 1 pound, 9 ounces.

They were whisked away instantly, their tiny bodies too fragile to hold just yet.

Kayla lived only 17 days. Her kidneys failed and then so did the rest of her organs. "If she would have been older she would have been on dialysis," Maskell said.

The other babies survived but spent months in incubators. Tyler, Justin and Anna Bell had cerebral palsy that would affect their development.

Kayla Maskell was the first of the quintuplets to be born on Oct. 1, 2009. She died 17 days later after her kidneys failed. (Provided by Bridgett Maskell)

Maskell was well enough to go home after three weeks, and she and her husband spent the next five months going back and forth from the hospital and to their jobs at Walmart stores.

Justin and Anna Belle came home at the end of February. Tyler and Ramona weren't ready until the end of March.

She is grateful for the care she and her babies got at Children's. "The staff is amazing," she said. "They really did take care of whatever I needed."

Justin Mistalski in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women and Children's Hospital as he was being prepared for surgery. (Provided by Bridgett Maskell)

Today, the children are 8 and in the third grade. The girls were given their mom's last name. The boys were given their dad's.

Maskell is a single mom. Her husband died two years ago of a blood clot. She has "someone new" in her life and they just had a baby, a little boy.

The quints still see specialists at Children's and Maskell is thrilled about the new hospital, the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital, which opened Friday.

Getting Anna Belle, who uses a wheelchair, to the neurologist's office involved taking the elevator up in an adjacent building and then going through back hallways. The development office was tiny and wasn't equipped to weigh Anna Belle in her wheelchair, Maskell said.

"You kind of take those things for granted," she said. She's been told the new offices will be much more accessible. "I am excited."

Ramona Maskell in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Women and Children's Hospital. (Provided by Bridgett Maskell)

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