by David Sisler

Chijindu Chidera Louis died Sunday morning in the neonatal intensive care unit of Texas Children's Hospital where she was born.

Odera, as she was nicknamed, lived only one week, but you know the story of her short life. She was one of eight babies, born to Mrs. Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi, naturalized American citizens originally from Nigeria.

Odera's sister, Chukwuebuka Nkemjika, was born two weeks earlier, a fact, doctors say, gave the other seven babies an extra chance at life. But even before the last of the babies was delivered by caesarian section, the medical debate was under way.

Dr. Randle Corfman, director of the Midwest Center for Reproductive Health in Robbinsdale, Minnesota called the eight babies "a disaster" from an infertility standpoint. Interviewed by the Associated Press two days after the babies were born, Corfman worried "that insurance companies may reconsider providing health coverage for women ... who have fertility treatment."

It is only a matter of time before insurance companies re-examine how to cover infertility treatments and stop providing coverage. At that point, parents will be forced to decide which is more important the lives of their babies, or the insurance money. And money will once again supercede morality. Babies will die so that insurance companies will retain high levels of profit.

An important consideration is lost in the money-or-babies debate the religious convictions which saw the couple give incredible names to their newborn.

"We want to honor God and celebrate his gifts to us in the names we give our eight children," the couple said. "The names we have given our children symbolize the strength, guidance and grace we know God will give them throughout their lives." Louis is the surname for all eight.

I do not know the religious traditions of the Igbo tribe, which the Louis family follows. I do not presume to assign them to the faith which I follow, but as I read the names of their children, and the translation of their names, I picked up a Bible and a concordance and began to look for verses where God is identified with the names given to the octuplets.

The list of the names, and the translation, is from an article by Mark Babineck of the AP. The Bible verses are of my choosing. The translation is from James I, king of England.

Baby A, the little girl born two weeks before her siblings, is Chukwuebuka Nkemjika, which means "God is great."

"Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty" (Psalm 104:1).

Baby B, the first of the seven multiple deliveries, is Chidinma Anulika, which means, "God is beautiful."

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation" (Isaiah 52:7)

Baby C is Chinecherem Nwabugwu, or "God thinks of me."

"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 55:7-8).

Baby D is Chimaijem Otito, meaning "God knows my way."

"For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish" (Psalm 1:6).

Baby E was Chijindu Chidera, translated to "God has my life."

"The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 34:3).

Baby F, the first of two boys, is Chukwubuikem Maduabuchi, meaning "God is my strength."

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

Baby G will be Chijioke Chinedum. His name means "God is my leader."

"He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalm 23:3).

Baby H, the last born is named Chinagorom Chidiebere, meaning "God is merciful."

"Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (Jonah 4:2).

Psychologists have long declared that a person's name is a vital part of an individual's mental well-being. If that is true, reading the names of the octuplets may explain why abortion by selective reduction was never an option to Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi. Maybe their names will give a clue to the clueless why the lives of unborn children will always be more important than corporate profit.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 1/2/99

Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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