The Chukwu octuplets were the first set of octuplets live-born in the United States in recorded history. The birth happened in 1998. Seven of the eight octuplets are currently alive; Odera died one week after birth.
The six girls and two boys were born in December 1998 at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas. Their parents — mother, Nkem Chukwu (then 27) and father, Iyke Louis Udobi (then 41) — are both Nigerian-born American citizens.
The octuplets were conceived with the aid of fertility medication. All weighed under two pounds at the time of birth. The first born, Ebuka, was delivered on December 8, 15 weeks premature. The remaining 7 octuplets were born by Caesarean section on December 20, 13 weeks premature. The smallest of the octuplets, Odera, died on December 27, a week after birth.
In 2002, Nkem Chukwu gave birth to a daughter named Divine Favour, without the help of fertility medication. She is called "Favour" as Chukwu believed that God did such by giving her back the daughter she lost after the octuplets' births. Favour is usually seen in public dressed like her siblings forming the 8-member brood.
The children celebrated their 10th birthday in Houston on December 20, 2008, in the company of volunteers who helped in their early years. The five girls and two boys are reported to be "normal, active and bright fourth-graders."
As both parents were of Igbo ancestry, the babies were named as follows:
|Full Name||Nickname||Gender||Weight at birth||Meaning|
|Chukwuebuka Nkemjika||Ebuka||Girl||690g (22 oz.)||God is Big|
|Chidinma Anulika||Chidi||Girl||760g (24.4 oz.)||God is good|
|Chinecherem Nwabugwu||Echerem||Girl||800g (25.7 oz.)||God Thinks for Me|
|Chimaijem Otto||Chima||Girl||730g (23.5 oz.)||God Knows My Journey|
|Chijindu Chidera||Odera||Girl||320g (10.3 oz.)||God Holds My Life|
|Chukwubuikem Maduabuchi||Ikem||Boy||500g (16.0 oz.)||God is My Strength|
|Chijioke Chinedum||Jioke||Boy||810g (26.0 oz.)||God holds my share|
|Chinagorom Chidiebere||Gorom||Girl||520g (16.7 oz.)||God is My Advocate|
Early January 2009, Nkem Chukwu and her husband Iyke Louis Udobi, appeared January 27, 2009 for the first time in 10 years on national TV on ABC's Good Morning America in a pre-recorded segment where they commented on the birth of the new Suleman octuplets. The next day, January 28, 2009, the whole family along with grandmother Janet Chukwu appeared on NBC's The Today Show which was the first time the octuplets appeared on national television since their first birthdays. Later that day they were whisked to the Associated Press (AP) World Headquarters for a TV interview for the world newswires. On Monday February 2, they also appeared on the Larry King Live show in a segment titled "Octuplet Outrage" focusing on the worldwide coverage generated by Nadya Suleman's 14 children, and the ethical and medical controversy. On February 9, 2009, Nkem and Iyke Chukwu appeared on Radio One's talk show The Mo'Nique show. They also appeared Sunday February 15, 2009 on a local TV segment on KHOU-TV, Houston, Texas on a family update. They also appeared on CNN's AC360 on February 18, 2009. Nkem Chukwu addressed the issue of the Nadya Suleman controversy with Randi Kaye of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 show on February 18, 2009.
On February 2, 2009, Nkem Chukwu released the statement:
- In light of the Bellflower mom, Nadya Suleman's story, I spoke on The Today Show.
When asked, Iyke Louis Udobi stated in their recent AP interview that "if you can take care of one, you can take care of eight".
The Chukwu octuplets embarked on a world tour themed "Promoting Healthy Families." The tour, which began in mid-2009 and included the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, England and the parents' native Nigeria, included visits to TV talk shows, health clinics, summer camps and supermarket seminars on large families for the children, and speaking engagements at prenatal and postnatal clinics for Nkem. In a March 18, 2009 interview in The Daily Sentinel, Iyke Louis and Nkem stated said that they did not intend to have so many children, but accepted the children as a gift from God. Several projects are in the works for the Chukwus, including a book, magazine deals and even a possible documentary.[dead link]
- "Mother of the Octuplets Goes Home to Recover", by Rick Lyman, New York Times, December 31, 1998; retrieved January 10, 2008
- "Houston octuplets celebrate 10th birthday", by Jennifer Leahy, from the Houston Chronicle website, December 20, 2008, retrieved February 2, 2009
- "Houston octuplets visit The Today Show", by Michael Inbar, from The Today Show website, January 28, 2009, retrieved February 7, 2009
- "Chukwu Octuplets visit Larry King Live"
- "Chukwu Octuplets parents on the Mo'Nique radio show" February 9, 2009, retrieved February 10, 2009
- "Houston Octuplets weigh in on California multiples", by KHOU-TV, Houston from the KHOU-TV website, February 16, 2009, retrieved February 18, 2009
- "Growing up as Octuplets", by CNN-TV's Anderson Cooper 360, from the AC360 blog, February 18, 2009, retrieved February 18, 2009
- "Houston Octuplet dad tells AP parents who can take care of one baby can do the same with 8!", by Bonny Goach, from Associated Press TV website, January 28, 2009, retrieved February 7, 2009
- Jacobs, Trent (March 18, 2008). "Title unknown", The Daily Sentinel[dead link]