'It shows there's hope', says dad of miracle triplets as they turn 5
An Irish dad has said his miracle triplets show other parents of premature babies that there is hope as they prepare to celebrate their fifth birthdays on Christmas Day.
Lucy, Ethan and Matt O'Rourke, who are in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's earliest surviving triplets, weighed just over one pound each when they arrived at Cork University Maternity Hospital on December 25, 2012.
The children, from Clashmore, Waterford, were officially written into the record books as the tiniest triplets in the world after arriving 113 days early.
Their father, Pat, still looks back in wonder at the size of his two sons and daughter when they came into the world at 23 weeks and six days, weighing less than half-a-bag of sugar.
"I remember my hand could cover Ethan. There's a picture where my whole palm covers him. You could just see his head - that's how small he was," he said.
The three babies all battled through chronic lung disease and were resuscitated on a number of occasions by the neo-natal staff at Cork University Hospital.
Mr O'Rourke said he has returned with the triplets to the neo-natal unit where medics nursed them back to health.
"It just shows there's hope," he said.
The triplets are preparing to celebrate on the double on Christmas Day, with Santa's presents in the morning and their birthday party in the evening.
"They'll be five this year. They're cute," said Mr O'Rourke.
"They know Santy is coming and they know it's their birthday too.
"We have Christmas in the morning and their birthday in the evening."
Mr O'Rourke said he and his wife, Pamela, are expecting another new addition to the family next year.
He added that the doctor carrying out the eight-week scan on his pregnant wife knew all about the arrival of the triplets.
"He told me, 'Ye messed up a lot of Christmas dinners that day'," he said.