Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mary Ann Fischer June 8, 1933 - Dec. 9, 2012 Mother of First Surviving Quintuplets in United States

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mary Ann Fischer June 8, 1933 - Dec. 9, 2012 Mother of First Surviving Quintuplets in United States

Article excerpt

There was a two-hour parade through Aberdeen, S.D., on Oct. 14, 1963, one month after Mary Ann Fischer gave birth to four girls and a boy at a local hospital -- the first quintuplets to survive in the United States.

Ms. Fischer and her husband, Andrew, led the parade.

"About 50,000 persons, including Aberdeen's 24,000 residents, were on hand for the ceremonies," United Press International reported. "A highlight was the presentation of five medals from Pope Paul VI to the Fischers."

Within hours after the quintuplets were born at St. Luke's Hospital from 1:58 to 3:01 a.m. Sept. 14, 1963, it had become not only local news, but national news as well. The Fischers already had five children, and would later have another.

"Quintuplets Fine as 72-Hour Critical Period Ends," a headline in The New York Times said.

"The chances of a mother giving birth to quintuplets are 42 million to one," Newsweek wrote.

And the coverage continued. Seven months later, The Saturday Evening Post published a 10-page article with 11 large photographs of the babies, by then pleasingly chubby, and a text written by Ms. Fischer.

"They came into the world as tiny, premature babies, so small that any one of them could be held in a hand," she wrote. "The odds were very much against their survival, and we know that around the world thousands of good-hearted people prayed for them."

Ms. Fischer died Dec. 9 at St. Luke's, the hospital where the quintuplets were born, said George Schriver, director of Schriver's Memorial Mortuary and Crematory in Aberdeen. She had recently been treated for leukemia. She was 79.

The Fischers were surprised during the seventh month of pregnancy when James Berbos, a doctor, told them that the X-ray showed quintuplets. By then, Ms. Fischer had gained 30 pounds. "I thought I was going to die," she told The Aberdeen American-News in 2003. "I was gaining 4 to 5 pounds a day."

A few days later, the quintuplets -- Mary Ann, Mary Catherine, Mary Margaret, Mary Magdalene and James Andrew -- were born, four of them breech, and immediately placed in isolettes. …

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