09:28 AM

Helms Quintuplets Turn 30

On March 2, 1987, Ron and Roz Helms of Peoria, Illinois welcomed four daughters and a son, in an era when multiple births such as theirs were not common.

Giving birth to quintuplets is a rarity, although medical advances, including the development of surfactant to help the development of premature lungs, have improved survival rates. The birth of the Helms quintuplets in Peoria, Illinois on March 2,1987 drew quite a bit of attention. As they celebrate their childrens' 30th birthday, Ron and Roz Helms do so with the emotion of such a life-changing event.

"We’ve been very very lucky, very lucky," says Roz. "Our kids were the 13th surviving set of quintuplets in the U.S. There are more sets after us, but at that point we were the 13th surviving set in 1987. For the longest time our kids were the smallest set of surviving quints in the world that we knew of."

Shannon, Ben, Samantha, Bevin, and Meredith Helms were born by emergency c-section 12-and-a-half weeks early. They ranged in weight from one pound 12-ounces to two pounds 3-ounces. There were plenty of health scares and difficulties in the early years, but all five have grown and gone on to relatively normal lives that including graduating from college, getting jobs, and, for Meredith, marriage. Bevin graduated from the Saint Francis College of Nursing in Peoria and worked for a time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital of Illinois, the place where she spent months as a newborn. She and Shannon have moved to Texas where Bevin is now an O-B nurse at McKinney Hospital north of Dallas. Shannon works for an I-T headhunter.

"That was the cool thing about Bevin working in the NICU a couple years ago. She was able to say to the parents 'I’m one of these babies.' That was really cool," says Ron, choking with emotion.

"There’s no words to describe our feelings for the NICU unit. If it wasn’t for them and it wasn’t for Saint Francis we wouldn’t be parents. We’re very very blessed and can never repay that debt…never."

Roz Helms on being 13th set of quints.mp4