Multiple Joys

Four sets of twins are born in the span of 32 hours at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

Emma Anderson had expected to give birth on July 2, but some last-minute complications forced her to deliver early, capping what could be a new record at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford: four sets of twins born in the span of 32 hours.

Anderson’s twin girls were the last in a series of multiples that set the maternity ward abuzz and rallied the clinical staff to handle the unexpected baby bonus. The multiple marathon began early Monday, June 29.

“When we arrived Monday afternoon, the nurses said, ‘You wouldn’t believe it, we’ve already delivered two sets of twins today,’” said new mom Kelli Smith, MD, a medical resident at Stanford. “I said, ‘That’s incredible. I hope you guys had lunch!’

“They were great,” she said of the nurses. “They were excited about this twin day. It was like all hands on deck.”

The odds of having twins are 1 in 30. The odds of having four sets in a row in such a short time are slim indeed: roughly 1 in 1,000,000.

“I cannot recall so many twin births within that short of a time frame,” said Lou Filoteo, RN, a nurse manager in maternity who has been at Packard Children’s Hospital for 19 years.

The twin trend began when Jisil Lee came to Packard Children’s from her Union City home early Monday for what proved to be an emergency C-section. Lee had asked to move up the delivery date as the babies were so enormous—a combined 14.5 pounds—that she literally couldn’t stand up by herself, said her husband, Dohyup Kim, a postdoctoral researcher in neurology at Stanford Medicine.

“As soon as the nurses connected the ultrasound, they found out that both babies were very stressed. The boy had the umbilical cord wrapped three times around the neck, and the girl’s placenta was almost separated from the mom. So it was very urgent for her to get the surgery done,” Kim said, translating for his wife, newly arrived from South Korea.

Four sets of twins are born in the span of 32 hours at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

Within minutes, more than a dozen clinicians rushed to the operating room for the high-risk delivery, which went smoothly. Ethan came into the world at 8:15 a.m., followed by his sister, Yisol, a minute later.

“Before this pregnancy, my wife had wanted a daughter, and I wanted to have a son. We were going to only have one pregnancy in our lifetime, so we were very lucky,” Dohyup Kim said. “The nurses did a wonderful job with our twins. They were all so kind and gentle.”

Within hours, the clinical staff converged again for two more sets of twin births, including the C-section delivery that welcomed Kelli Smith’s newborns, Henry and Logan, at 3:03 and 3:05 p.m. Smith’s pregnancy was high-risk, as she is a cancer survivor with some cardiovascular issues. She and her husband, Zachary, had been worried they’d not be able to conceive at all, so when their identical twins arrived safely, the couple was elated.

“We prayed for a miracle, and we got two,” said Kelli Smith, who lives with her newly expanded family in Palo Alto.

The boys didn’t share the same amniotic sac, which is rare for twins, she noted. She said the nurses told her they’d not seen so many twins come in such a short time.

“They were excited about this twin day,” she said. “It felt like it was special.”

The trend continued the next day when Emma Anderson came to the hospital ahead of her scheduled delivery, as she had developed a sudden case of preeclampsia, a serious condition marked by high blood pressure and signs of organ damage, usually to the liver or kidneys. Her husband, Robert Sacher, a first responder for Cal Fire, immediately realized something was wrong when she woke in the middle of the night with breathing difficulties. The Redwood City couple rushed to Packard Children’s, where she was found to have very high blood pressure and elevated liver enzymes, among other worrisome symptoms.

Doctors performed an emergency C-section that delivered their two girls, Hadley and Olivia, at 4:07 and 4:08 p.m. The infants were slightly underweight—4 pounds 7 ounces and 3 pounds 9 ounces—so they have remained in the hospital’s intermediate care unit, where they are doing well, Emma Anderson said.

While recovering in the hospital, she learned from the nurses that she had been part of a sudden spate of twin births.

“It’s pretty cool, and it’s definitely unique,” she said.

Learn more about the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services >


2 Responses to “Multiple Joys”

  1. Zachary Smith

    Thank you Ms. Richter for this story. I’m Zachary and I’m Kellis husband that you referenced in the story. We appreciate you taking the time to document such a joyous occasion for us. Its a tough time and we are thankful to have some good news to cling to when things get difficult. Thank you for everything and God bless.


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