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Ogema quads 'still fighting for their lives'

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For Taelyn, Avery, Kade and Hoyt Jensen, life has been a struggle from the moment they came into the world.

The quadruplet children of Margo and Matt Jensen of Ogema were born by Caesarean section on Aug. 21.

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They had spent just a few days past 24 weeks in their mother's womb.

That's the point at which the odds of survival just start to beat a coin flip.

"With the Good Lord willing, hopefully, he'll let us bring them all home," Matt said Sunday.

"We're just thankful for every day we get to spend with and keep our babies," Margo said.

The newborns, not much bigger than a man's hand, are in critical condition in the neonatal intensive care unit at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo - where they may stay for the next 12 weeks, neonatologist Dr. Taysir Shash said.

The boys, Hoyt and Kade, were born at 1 pound, 9 ounces and 1 pound, 6 ounces, respectively. The girls, Taelyn and Avery, were 1 pound, 5 ounces and 1 pound, 4 ounces, respectively.

All have immature lungs and breathe with the help of machines. Some have had unstable blood pressure and intestinal tract problems, and they've had multiple blood transfusions, Shash said.

They're also being treated for possible infections and suppressed immune systems, he said.

"They are still fighting for their lives," Shash said. "We don't know if they're going to make it or not, but we'll do our best to help them."

Matt and Margo agreed to meet with media after receiving several requests since the birth of the children.

The couple emphasized that they didn't want to use the media for fundraising, or to detract from the help and prayers other couples with babies in the NICU need.

They also don't want people to romanticize the idea of having quadruplets.

"They don't know the whole story behind the babies," Matt said. "They don't know Avery has four tubes in her body. She's been through more in her little life than some people have in their whole lives."

Matt, 30, works as a personal care attendant at New Dimension's Home Health Care in Fergus Falls, Minn. He also builds stone fireplaces. Margo, 29, is a teller for Community Development, Inc. in Ogema.

The couple were working with the infertility clinic at MeritCare. Margo was taking fertility drugs.

They used intrauterine insemination to increase her chances of pregnancy. What no one knew was that she had released at least four eggs.

In April, when they found out about the pregnancy, they were ecstatic, Matt said. Then, when they learned there were four babies on the way, they grew concerned.

Margo said she had to slow down her life. Walks were short, and she went on home bed rest at 20 weeks.

The plan was to bring her to MeritCare for bed rest at 24 weeks, but the babies had other ideas, and she was in the hospital at 23 weeks. Margo made it her goal to carry the babies as long as possible. Doctors managed to delay the birth until Aug. 21.

Babies normally are not ready to be born until they're 35 to 40 weeks old, Shash said.

Shash, who has worked with several sets of quadruplets, said 24 weeks is considered the borderline for survivability of premature babies - about 50 percent live. But the chances of each of the four babies surviving improve with each day, he said.

"They're still sick and we're hoping," he said. "They're holding their own."

The babies have lost some water weight, which is normal, Shash said.

"They're going to be here for a long time," he said.

Matt and Margo haven't seen the first of the bills yet. They don't know how much their insurance covers. But that can wait until the children get healthy, Matt said.

"We've got way bigger concerns than money," Matt said.

Their church, Wild Rice Lutheran in rural Twin Valley, Minn., is part of a three-point parish with Aspelund Lutheran in Flom, Minn., and Trinity Lutheran in Waubun, Minn. The parish will hold a benefit Nov. 2 at Waubun High School that will include a meal with free-will offering, silent auction and a raffle, Matt said.

Matt said the happiest ending would be if all four babies could go home healthy.

"Right now, the more prayers we can get and the more support, it keeps us going," Matt said. "We believe in God and his power."

"It's definitely made our faith much stronger," Margo said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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