World's first surviving nonuplets celebrate third birthday

By Sanj Atwal

The world’s first surviving nonuplets celebrate their third birthday today, 4 May 2024.

They are enjoying the occasion at home in Mali with their parents and six-year-old sister Souda.

All nine children are healthy and meeting their developmental milestones.

Their father Abdelkader Arby said: "Each of them has their own personality; we as parents try to satisfy and understand them all, but they are all really cute.

"As for how do we raise them all, I would like to inform you that it is a divine gift: we have the support of the Malian State and good will. It is not easy but it will be fine, Inshallah."

Cisse nonuplets with parents

The nonuplets visited Italy two months ago, making their first trip outside Africa to appear on our TV talent show Lo Show dei Record.

They became restless while posing for photographs backstage, but their mother, 28-year-old Halima Cissé, was able to pacify them by playing YouTube videos of nursery rhymes on her phone.

Their attention was also captured by their Guinness World Records certificate, which had a couple of them vying for its possession.

The nonuplets were first presented with their certificate in 2022, just before they departed Morocco where they had spent the first 18 months of their lives.

Two Cisse siblings pulling on GWR certificate

They are officially the most children delivered at a single birth to survive, with the record previously belonging to eight babies born to Nadya Suleman (USA) aka "Octomom" in 2009.

Until the arrival of the Cissé children, there had been no recorded cases of nonuplets surviving more than a few hours after birth.

Halima birthed the nonuplets at a specialist clinic in Morocco after being sent there by the Malian government. Malian doctors initially thought Halima was having septuplets, but two additional babies were detected in Morocco.

“We started with seven, and Allah blessed us with nine,” Abdelkader later said.

The five baby girls (Adama, Oumou, Hawa, Kadidia, Fatouma) and four baby boys (Oumar, Elhadji, Bah and Mohammed VI) were born prematurely via Caesarean section, 30 weeks into Mrs Cissé’s pregnancy.

Each baby weighed between 0.5–1 kg (1.1–2.2 lb).

They were immediately transferred to incubators and required constant care for the following few months, thereafter being moved into a specially equipped apartment where nurses were on hand to help Halima look after them.

The Cissé nonuplets in December 2022, aged one and a half

The nonuplets celebrated their first birthday there; a small party was held at the apartment with just a few nurses and neighbours from the building invited.

They celebrated their second birthday six months after going home to Mali. Halima said at the time: “It’s not easy to put them to sleep all together. We cuddle them so they can sleep; they really like cuddles to sleep.”

We are proud, it’s something exceptional. The family is known worldwide, it’s a great thing. - Abdelkader

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