They are known around the traps at Wellington Hospital as the three wise men, but Christmas Day triplets Elia, Rumi, and Sameer Alqudah were only born in the capital because there was no room at the Auckland inn.
The three boys – Elia and Rumi are identical twins while Sameer, or Sam, is their non-identical triplet – were delivered by Caesarean section in Wellington Hospital in that order at 11.49am, 11.50am, and 11.53am on Friday.
Their mother, Dina Wahid, can’t praise the staff at Wellington Hospital enough.
But she was left dismayed and angry at Auckland medical staff, who she said had months of warning the triplets were coming, yet told her on December 23 there weren’t three neonatal intensive care (NICU) beds available in the city, and she would have to have her babies in Wellington.
She flew to Wellington on a Starship medical plane on Christmas Eve to have her babies in a city where she knew nobody and had no support, apart from her husband Moe Alqudah.
“I think it is just shocking that this is what it has come down to in this country,” she said.
She got pregnant in lockdown in Dubai and found out in May they were going to be triplets.
“The doctors said if you want to have your babies in New Zealand you have to go back as soon as possible.”
Wahid, a New Zealand citizen, flew back in July. Her husband came home in November.
Over the coming months she had weekly check ups at the National Women’s Hospital in Auckland and knew the babies were going to be born by Caesarean section around Christmas time.
It was December 23 when she was told the triplets needed to come out within 48 hours, and she was flown to Wellington on a Starship plane on Christmas Eve.
“From the moment we arrived, the staff were amazing, from the midwives to the nurses to the surgeons and doctors,” she said. “Everyone took us in at the last minute and really took care of us.”
She praised the facilities and organisations such as The Neonatal Trust, Brave Hearts, and Ronald McDonald House, as well as the team at Wellington Hospital.
“Usually this is within metro Auckland but in some rare cases, this could be to a hospital outside Auckland,” she said. “We understand the impact this has on the experience of the woman and her supporting whānau.”
There was capacity to open up beds in Auckland for babies who unexpectedly needed NICU care.
Meanwhile, the three wise men – as Elia, Rumi, and Sam are known around Wellington Hospital – are expected to be released from Wellington Hospital with a clean bill of health and sent to Auckland’s neonatal unit – just as soon as a space comes up.
Their mother held them for the first time on Sunday. “It did feel surreal,” she said. “It was amazing.”
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