ST. LOUIS – Her name means "saint," but right now, quintuplet Kieran Ferrill is a star, according to her doctor at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
"She's been doing a grand job," Dr. Jeff Dawson said on Monday afternoon at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
After some final checks, Kieran became the first of the Ferrill quintuplets to be released from the hospital Monday into the care of her mother, Jenny Ferrill, who's staying at the Ronald McDonald House apartments in St. Louis.
"We're very excited about that," said Pete Ferrill, Jenny's husband, who was back at work in Danville on Monday after spending the weekend with Jenny and the babies in St. Louis. Kieran is "meeting the criteria to be released, and that makes us very pleased that she's doing that well at this stage of her development."
The Ferrill Five, three boys and two girls, were born Dec. 21, each weighing a little more than three pounds. In the almost two months since birth, Kieran has almost doubled in weight, tipping the scales at about six pounds.
It's just one key factor leading to her release on Monday.
Dawson said all five are doing well, especially considering they were premature.
"They are doing remarkably well and have avoided a lot of those problems" that premature babies usually face, Dawson said. "Within the next week or so, hopefully all will be going home."
The doctors maintain a quintuplet queue, but it changes often, Dawson said, as each baby has good days and bad days.
Each must show progress in certain areas before being released.
"They must get to the point where they can thrive," he said.
More specifically, he said the babies must be big enough to maintain body temperature, eat well and eat consistently, achieve a stable breathing pattern and be able to "pack on the pounds."
Kieran surprised her parents by being the first to leave the hospital.
"We were thinking Landyn would be first. He's been the strongest all along," Pete Ferrill said.
His sister was first, but Landyn might not be far behind.
"Landyn is acting kind of like he may go next," Dawson said. "They all misbehave, and then we reorder them, but most likely Landyn will be next. And the clearest thing is Irelyn will be last."
Irelyn, the other girl, Dawson said, has had a few more medical situations than the others, but even so, she may be ready for release in a week or so.
"They're all making great progress," he said.
Anticipating Kieran's release Monday, the Ferrills bought her a special dress to wear, and for the apartment, they set up a play pen, a swing and a cradle.
"It's going to be really neat," Pete Ferrill said of Kieran's release.
Jenny's mom, Karen Butikas of Westville, is there to help now that Jenny must split her time with babies in two places. Ferrill said family members plan to help as each baby is discharged and definitely once they all come home to Danville.
Dawson said it's very exciting for the medical staff at the hospital to watch the quintuplets progress and begin to leave.
"We feel a lot of compassion for this family, because they already have been through so much," he said. "And they're ready to take on the next hurdle, which is a gigantic hurdle. Logistically, this family is going to go through a lot in the next months and years to make sure these children grow and thrive – lots of doctor visits and snotty noses multiplied times five."